Placemaking and the Politics of Belonging and Dis-belonging
The task for us who work on Creative Placemaking activities is to assure and sustain a mindful awareness of what is authentic in Creative Placemaking. The authenticity I am invoking is grounded in the ethos of belonging. Cultural and civic belonging — how to create it; how to understand and accommodate cultural difference in matters of civic participation; how to enhance the community’s understanding of citizenship beyond the confines of leisure pursuits and consumption; how to help the citizens of a place achieve strength and prosperity through equity and civility. Having a sense of belonging, therefore, needs to be foregrounded in Creative Placemaking practices.
As a policymaker I argue for the aesthetic of belonging as central to Creative Placemaking. The blind love of Creative Placemaking that is tied to the allure of speculation culture and its economic thinking of “build it and they will come” is suffocating and unethical, and supports a politics of dis-belonging employed to manufacture a “place.” Creative Placemaking and its aesthetics of belonging contribute to and shape our person, the rights and duties of individuals crucial to a healthy democracy that animate the commons. It should also animate Creative Placemaking not as a development strategy but as a series of actions that build spatial justice, healthy communities, and sites of imaginations.