With vacancy on the rise, it’s important to think about re-defining the impact on a neighborhood. These open spaces can create and enrich opportunities for cultural activities. Vacant lots can strengthen neighborhood culture through a variety of means: information sharing, encouraging community involvement, storytelling, etc. The following examples are ways that communities have created or supported initiatives that enrich the community’s culture.
Click the images below to learn more.
“In Creative Placemaking, partners from public, private, non-profit, and community sectors strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities. Creative Placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire and be inspired.”
– Creative Placemaking, Ann Markusen & Anne Gadwa
These community examples both held events to increase awareness and get people involved. In Chicago, work was inspired by a group of teenage girls at a “boot camp” where they encouraged passersby to write their goals and wishes for their neighborhood. In Milwaukee, it began with a block party and community work day. With partnerships like Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and Building Value, events could be organized to raise awareness of the increasing vacant lot problem. Salvaged materials from demolished buildings could be given out during a ‘Vacant Lot Day’ to encourage residents to use the materials and spruce up vacant properties in their neighborhood on one day.
History and storytelling always serve as a way to connect communities and is often the building blocks of a community culture. To further shift vacant lots from negative issues to positive assets, they can become methods for sharing a neighborhood’s rich history and encourage pride. Signs at vacant lots, that include stories about the neighborhood and the specific site, can help residents connect to a piece of vacant land and hopefully create a sense of caring for vacant spaces in the neighborhood.