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Placemaking Leaders Agree: Civic Engagement Essential to Build Community of the Future

The latest installment of the Center for Civic Engagement’s Future40 Series, Gather!, brought together four notable San Diego leaders in the fields of design, education and policy for a conversation about how to build the community of the future.

The June 19 event, hosted by A.R.T.S. in National City, was an opportunity for San Diegans to discuss how the places we work, learn, and live can adapt and evolve to create a more equitable and vibrant region.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison kicked off the evening with a snapshot of his community, emphasizing the importance of investment in underrepresented regions by pointing to National City’s own success story.

Attendees then heard from four featured speakers who emphasized the importance of civic engagement in building community.

While each expert brought a unique viewpoint to placemaking in San Diego, all agreed on the importance of creative thinking and collaboration to ensure a rich future for all communities.

Community Civic Engagement

A.R.T.S. CEO and Founder Matt D’Arrigo illustrated the use of education and the arts, all within a collectively-designed space, to transform the lives of children and youth in National City through the development of gathering places.

“Students at A.R.T.S. will be the next mayor or councilmember here in the community, so we are relying on their time and talent to build a space that everyone can use,” underlined Matt.

Philip Auchettl, CEO of RAD Lab presented his out-of-the-box process for building downtown’s popular event site, Quartyard, as a new approach for taking action and collaborating with leaders and local residents to accomplish a goal.

Watch individual presentations and audience Q&A from the event here >

Philip stressed the value of getting buy-in from the community. “Asking residents to recommend what elements they wanted at a location allowed us to engage with groups early and create something that everyone was proud of,” he explained.

UC San Diego professors and co-directors of the UCSD Blum Cross-Border Initiative Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman concluded the presentations by previewing their Bi-national Citizenship Culture Survey. The findings provide a global perspective for how San Diegans can glean strategies and best practices when addressing community development.

Teddy cited the unique gathering spaces approach of Colombia’s city of Medellin when he said, “we need to start thinking about public space as a way to educate and engage with the community.”

[Tweet “#Placemaking through civic engagement can inject culture, social & economic opps into communities.”]

As the presentations and panel discussion came to a close, the speakers left attendees with a clear message:  with civic engagement, innovation and leadership, there are a variety of methodologies and strategies to build tomorrow’s public spaces to grow a vibrant region.

The San Diego Foundation CEO Kathlyn Mead reminded attendees that, “building the community of the future starts with all of us.”

Did you miss the event but want to join the ongoing Future40 conversation?

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