“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
-- Maya Angelou
Safety and security are rarely what we talk about here, but it is at the heart of what we focus on in our work. When you feel good about where you live, if you feel safe, then and only then are you able to thrive, participate and live into the community you are surrounded by. Residents and businesses living and operating from a place of security, and not fear lead to art, economic growth and community engagement. But these things cannot happen without open hands and minds that aren’t scared of the past, present and future.
Motley has worked with communities that have population demographics split right down the middle of these two mindsets. Half of the community is secure and operating from a place of health and emotional attachment to the place. The other half is struggling to engage because of prejudice divides, economic instability, cultural difference or a list of other reasons. Motley’s goal in every community is for everyone to feel safe and included, to then be able to engage and thrive in the place where they live.
Unbalanced attention might seem unfair or even unattainable, but really, in order for the entire community to move forward, the ones that were left in a space of insecurity need to be brought up to to a safe place.
This is where we utilize creative placemaking. Placemaking can take form in many ways. You’re already participating in and benefitting from placemaking in your day to day life: city events, a mural, a community garden, bike lanes, a good park, an Instagram account, a strong local business community -- all of these things make us feel like we can call a place home and feel good about it calling it home. These initiatives only increase place attachment and secure feelings towards our community that are healthy. These initiatives can provide a place, a platform, and exist as a tool for others in the community to reach a place of security.
The result of placemaking is the difference between walking into a home that is furnished with pictures on the wall and stepping into a shell of a house that has all the possibilities but is unpainted and unlived in. Placemaking is the human touch, it’s the family photos, it’s the chipped paint on the walls. It’s turning a place from “Maybe I can see myself here,” to “This is mine!” In this, it’s important whose picture you see on the wall. Could you see your entire community here, or have you created a place for only some of them?
So, next time you’re painting a mural, or posting on Instagram, think for just a minute -- is this going to engage my whole community, the community that is already safe, or could I use this tool and this time to engage with those that are still working to claim this community as theirs?