Shaping Space for Civic Life
You'll learn about:
- Four key civic-engagement objectives: civic trust, participation in public life, stewardship of the public realm, and informed local voting
- Specific examples of how community design elements impact civic life
- National project examples that are using planning and policy to influence civic engagement outcomes
- Opportunities and methods for planners and policymakers to elevate civic life in their communities and benchmark their successes
Communities across the United States face concerning trends related to civic engagement, including low voter turnout and growing social and economic divides. Planners, designers, civic leaders, and community residents alike are interested in rebuilding trust, revitalizing neighborhoods, and supporting interaction among diverse groups. Promising innovations to bolster vibrant street life are emerging across the country, and many city agencies and public-private partnerships are actively working to transform underutilized infrastructure into dynamic public spaces.
In light of these trends, the Center for Active Design has launched “Assembly: Shaping Space for Civic Life,” a pioneering initiative to leverage place-based design as a tool to enhance civic engagement. This session will introduce you to this initiative and its evidence-based approach to shaping public spaces. Reflect on historic and emerging research that points to the connection between the built environment and civic participation, examine project examples from Philadelphia and Detroit, and learn how to enhance civic engagement levels in your own communities.
Confirmed SpeakerJennifer joined the Fairmount Park Conservancy, a non-profit organization devoted to championing Philadelphia’s 10,500 acre park system, in 2012. In her capacity as Senior Director of Civic Initiatives, Jennifer helps to oversee the ‘Reimagining the Civic Commons’ project. Over the course of three years, the Civic Commons Collective will foster a collaborative environment among Philadelphia’s nonprofit network while repurposing and repositioning the city’s existing urban infrastructure into new amenities for the city and its neighborhoods. The Collective is undertaking data collection efforts to better measure the usage patterns of our projects, a storytelling effort to share the impact and learning from the neighboring communities and examining collaborative operations, staffing and maintenance models. In addition, we are partnering with leading researchers to experiment with programmatic and design interventions that will help us inform how citizens access civic assets. In addition, Jennifer helps direct the Neighborhood Park Stewardship Program, a unique partnership with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and our network of over 100 volunteer park friend groups. Together we organize, resource and celebrate our wonderful city parks and the volunteers who advocate for them. Jennifer is a part of the Natural Lands Team which oversees forestry and ecosystem management for the City and undertakes innovative research investigating climate change on our urban systems.
Confirmed SpeakerSuzanne Nienaber is Partnerships Director at the Center for Active Design, a non-profit organization using design to foster healthy and engaged communities. With expertise in urban planning and facilitation, Suzanne has orchestrated over 100 presentations and participatory workshops that encourage designers, planners, developers, and policymakers to transform the built environment to support community wellbeing. Prior to this role she was a consultant with New York City’s inter-agency Active Design team, where she developed and implemented training programs to familiarize public and private sector professionals with NYC’s award-winning Active Design Guidelines. Suzanne holds a Master of Urban Planning from New York University and has over a decade of experience working in the field. Previously, Suzanne was a Senior Planner at the firm of ACP Visioning+Planning, where she managed multi-jurisdictional visioning initiatives, master plans, and neighborhood-scale urban design plans. Suzanne is an AICP-designated planner, and is certified by the National Charrette Institute. Prior to her planning career she worked in the field of international public health, supporting nutrition and training programs at Helen Keller International.