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The Role of Placemaking in Sustainable Planning: A Case Study of the East Side of Cleveland, Ohio

The notion of placemaking and sustainability are central to planning practice. However, is there a connection between the goals of sustainability and the impacts of placemaking initiatives? The ultimate goal of sustainable planning is the creation of a sustainable community which include the defining features of a healthy climate and environment, social wellbeing, and economic security. Yet, sustainable planning is heavily focused on the environment. Placemaking initiatives focus on underutilized space, permanently or temporarily highlighting location, locale, and sense, the three realms of place. In attempt to answer whether placemaking can contribute to sustainable planning, this research focuses on the case study of the east side neighborhoods of Cleveland, Ohio and three placemaking initiatives which take place in those neighborhoods. Placemaking attendees were surveyed on their perspectives of the impact that the placemaking initiative has on the community. After coding the responses for common themes, these themes were related back to the larger defining features of a sustainable community. It was found that placemaking can be used to support the social and economic realms within sustainable planning and communities. The main characteristics which make these initiatives successful are free and open to the public, expression of uniqueness, and the support of local businesses. Placemaking offers benefits to both community and non-community members. Ultimately, placemaking is a beneficial tool that should be utilized by planners to aid in sustainable planning.
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