Saving the planet depends on reclaiming our communities, rebuilding our social life and creating a sense of place—a Social Life Project update

By Fred Kent & Kathy Madden

When you see people expressing, openly, their feelings in public spaces—you know you’re in a city that is safe and appealing

Here is a photo gallery of people all ages and cultures enjoying life in the streets and public spaces of Paris

How a block, and then a street was the impetus that connected Yale University with the neighborhood.

The Old Bridge at the Heart of New Plans to Create the World’s Best Waterfront

Pont Neuf by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1872)

Putting Paris on the Map. The invention of Paris as the world’s favorite city began with a bridge. It opened in 1607.

Photo: Nairobi, Kenya

Why Placemaking Can Help Facilitate the Change We Need

We are at a point where climate chaos, economic inequity and social alienation are converging into an unprecedented catastrophe. People everywhere realize that current efforts to address these issues are tragically failing. More and more of us — especially young people — are beginning to demand bolder, bigger action.

Central Park is full of small spaces that together add up to Frederick Law Olmsted’s unrivaled masterpiece

The sailboat pond, with strategically placed sculpture and kiosks, creates an oasis of calm and comfort in New York’s Central Park.

Scenes from Paris

The simple bollards found on streets throughout Paris are used in many ways to make the city more walkable and enjoyable. They subtly define public spaces and create transition zones in places where vehicles and pedestrians interact.

Bollards can:

  • offer a place to pause when you are waiting to cross a street
  • caution people to be wary of oncoming traffic
  • highlight important intersections or destinations throughout the city
  • provide a safe place to wait or have a conversation alongside busy streets
  • prevent cars from parking on sidewalks

Bollards have become an important piece of Parisian public infrastructure, which enhances street…

A wrong turn in the city that showed us how to do tall buildings right

A “dead zone” is taking over the north shore of iconic False Creek as new super high-rises completely ignore the basic human need for congenial spots to gather and play. With the newer tall buildings, human scale is seriously missing.

This is a shame in a city known around the world for its beauty, dynamic culture and tradition of lively public spaces. Its waterfront is revered as a wonderful place to walk and bike. Many other cities have learned lessons from Vancouver ’s lead in many aspects of placemaking, but that wisdom now seems forgotten in its birthplace.

This view…

“I end, then, in praise of small spaces. For a city, such places are priceless.” — William H. Whyte, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

By Fred Kent & Kathy Madden

Central Park Fountain New York City

William “Holly” Whyte was our mentor and our friend. One of his great gifts was showing why some public spaces work and others don’t. With the 1980 publication of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces and its companion film, people around the world gained a fresh understanding about how to make our cities more livable. …

Fred Kent and Kathy Madden

Founders of the Placemaking Fund (The Social Life Project and @placemakingx).

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