Place is an interesting idea. Throughout our lives we come to find value and meaning to significant places. I go into a business and interact with the environment, the product, and figure out if it will become one of my “places.” A space that I can relate to and if I feel that I belong. Our lives are scattered with places throughout. I remember as a child spending hours on my favorite swing. Situated under an oak tree, I spend countless moments, buried deep within my imagination, and acting as if I had no care in the world. In that place, I found moments of solace. Maybe for you it was the hayloft in the barn, a favorite park, or even a chair situated in a light-filled room in your house.
Place has incredible power. Yet when it comes to our cities, our public spaces, they’re often left ignored, untouched, or unnecessarily hard. It seems that our urban environments are devoid of life, color, and the places that we love. Instead they’re met with trash, dead plants, and vacant and abandoned spaces.
Last week, I attending a live event of TED talks in Redding. While there were some talks that fell flat, I loved the theme of the night and thought I would share my favorite talk here. A guy named Jason, from Dallas, presented on how he and a group of friends brought creativity to his part of the city, that was in desperate need of help. He compared his days spent on his European honeymoon and the cityscapes there, to that of Dallas overpasses and concrete. He decided enough was enough. He took his neighborhood, a few ideas, and started doing pop-up shops in storage containers, doing festivals in abandoned blocks, adding bike lanes, bringing back street cars, and finding greenspace. His story is one of incredible tenacity, boldness, and creativity of ideas. He made things happen. He acknowledged that sometimes in order for change to happen you just needed to do it. He tried going the civic route, petitioning for council members support, passing ordinances, and nothing got done. You can watch the full talk here.
What about the places that fill your lives? How are you participating in creating a better landscape for those around you? In Redding, there is always debate on to the latest changes and, yes, subsequent problems in the city. But after last Friday evening, I find renewed hope in the creative community, local businesses, and people that long to make this little city something more than a stopping point before heading to the mountains. I think back to the places, that invited me in, that I could call my own, and where I knew something was right. I could feel safe and free, almost finding rest in a place. These are places I hope to build for others, to cultivate in this community, and to encourage on a local level.
What are your thoughts on space and place? How do you cultivate and curate them for incredible things to happen?