5 Questions Every Place Must Answer to Stay “Alive”

June 19, 2015 at 5:56 pm Leave a comment

by Rob Wolfe – Connected Places Global

The goal of any place or destination – city, neighborhood, venue, or recreational spot – should be to create excitement that motivates and includes all the right people to engage them in making and keeping your place vibrant, distinctive, and inviting.

5 Questions Every Place Must Answer to Stay "Alive"
Photo Source: Deluth, Georgia Community Page

Simply put, the primary goal of any place is to keep it “alive.”
Your desired outcome should be social appeal that:

  • Attracts and retains visitors, residents, and/or businesses
  • Enables them to create unique personal experiences and lasting memories every time they interact with your place
  • Nurtures their loyalty to your place through an ever-evolving emotional connection, and
  • Makes your place a top-of-mind destination of choice.

By collecting several quotes related to places and people (and the feelings that inspire people), and by interpreting from those quotes five significant placemaking concepts, I’ve come up with five questions that I believe every place must answer to remain relevant, unique, and connected to the people who matter most.

I propose that ongoing development of your strategy and your tactical placemaking initiatives should always be focused on answering these questions, whether through periodic formal meetings to reach consensus on the answers and establish an action plan, or through informal gatherings of your stakeholder groups to maintain the bonds among people and ensure unstoppable collaboration.

  1. Is our place “illuminated brightly” with art, music and events to keep people coming back?

    “Life is a lot more interesting if you are interested in the people and the places around you. So, illuminate your little patch of ground, the people that you know, the things that you want to commemorate. Light them up with your art, with your music, with your writing, with whatever it is that you do.”
    ~ Alan Moore

    “Every place is given its character by certain patterns of events that keep on happening there. The more living patterns there are in a place…the more it comes to life as an entirety, the more it glows, the more it has that self-maintaining fire which is the quality without a name.”
    ~ Christopher Alexander

    “The arts can play a vital role in revitalizing neighborhoods, using and improving vacant space, bringing new jobs and new sense of opportunity, and improving public safety by generating more foot traffic and more eyes on the street.”
    ~ Gavin Newsom

  2. Do our streets, public areas, or venues have an “inspirational vibe”?

    “Streets and their sidewalks, the main public spaces of a city, are its most vital organs.”
    ~ Jane Jacobs

    “I’m greedy about cities – I like to form my impressions of them on my own, and on foot as far as possible, looking and listening, having conversations with bridges and streets and riverbanks, conversations I tend not to be aware of until a little later, when I find myself returning to those places to say hello again, even if only in memory.”
    ~ Helen Oyeyemi

    “We can make our cities diverse, inspirational places by putting art, dance and performance in all its forms into the matrix of street life.”
    ~ Antony Gormley

  3. Are we providing cultural vessels in both our new designs and our reinvented spaces?

    “I think you need to, as an architect, understand the essence of a place and create a building that feels like it resonates with the culture of a place.”
    ~ Moshe Safdie

    “A true architect is not an artist but an optimistic realist. They take a diverse number of stakeholders, extract needs, concerns, and dreams, then create a beautiful yet tangible solution that is loved by the users and the community at large. We create vessels in which life happens.”
    ~ Cameron Sinclair

  4. Does our place enable people to create their own experiences & stories to tell?

    “I’ve been a big fan always of getting my camera in different places and trying to seek the unusual vantage point.”
    ~ Joe McNally

    “Most of the places I’ve been, I’ve been a main piece of the puzzle.”
    ~ Eric Davis

  5. Does our place keep its promise to the people who matter most to us?

    “The thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it.”
    ~ Martin Parr

    “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.”
    ~ Ken Kesey

    “That right relationship between people and the places where they gather and inhabit offers the potential for transformative action.”
    vv~ Powers of Place (powersofplace.com)


  • Do you agree that answering these five questions are valuable for helping any place establish focus and direction for their future planning?
  • Do you think there are other equally important or more important questions that any place needs to answer to stay “alive”?
  • Do you have any advice to offer to build upon any of the placemaking concepts covered by these questions?



Entry filed under: BRANDING, BUSINESS BEST PRACTICES, PLACEMAKING. Tags: , , , , , .

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