Mary Stargel, Director of Innovation District Programs
Vancouver and Amsterdam. What do these cities have in common? Placemaking week.
Project for Public Spaces (PPS) hosts an International Placemaking Week conference and this year it’s being held in Chattanooga. This conference is a space (pun intended) for passionate global community members to talk about how to make cities beautiful and accessible.
Mary Stargel, Director of Innovation District Programs at The Enterprise Center and Brian Murphy, VP of Sales at the Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau, explain the significance of Placemaking Week being hosted here.
Why should local businesses care that this event is taking place in Chattanooga?
Stargel: More than 400 people from around the world will visit Chattanooga for the placemaking conference, and it’s our chance to showcase our eateries, outdoor spaces and public events.
Business owners should be excited to connect with conference attendees who are visiting the city. As placemakers, conference attendees are people who think about how to make spaces more attractive and inclusive, and they’ll no doubt have great ideas to share.
How can locals engage in the event?
Stargel: In addition to attending the full conference or purchasing a day pass, community members have the opportunity to attend several free events, from workshops on crowdfunding to learning the basics of placemaking to attending a walking tour of our city’s history through the lens of activism and Civil Rights.
What local work is PPS excited to highlight?
Stargel: We have 12 mobile workshops for conference attendees, located throughout our city and region, that will take a look at lessons local experts have learned in placemaking. Workshops will take place at the Menlo Park community garden, Glass Farms, Highland Park and further afield in Athens and Cleveland, Tennessee.
What local public space are you most excited to highlight?
Stargel: The wrap-up party for the conference will take place at the City Thread sculpture at Coopers Alley. The party, organized by local poet Erika Roberts and Placemaking Week logistics coordinator Lya Kimbrough, will feature local artists, dancers and musicians for entertainment and locally made egg rolls, popsicles and more for food. This event will be a prime example of the ways in which we can transform our public spaces and come together as a community.
What is the Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau doing to encourage events like PPS's Placemaking week?
Murphy: First and foremost, PPS Placemaking week is in Chattanooga because of the collaboration within the community to identify and recruit events that align with Chattanooga's goals. The local passion of the community is the real driver. Second, the innovation and continuous reinvention of our community amazes meeting planners from the Sculpture Field to Miller Park to the alley ways. At the CVB, we play the role of facilitators, helping to put our ommunity's best foot forward so we can all enjoy the benefits of our growing visitor economy.
Inspired? We are too. There are still tickets and day passes available, get yours here.
*Pictured above: Chattanooga residents help paint “Dreaming Forward/Sonañdo,” Chattanooga's first Latino mural at the corner of Broad and Main Streets, by Alex Paul Loza.