What have you learned about the CityMaking process that you would like to pass on? We asked individuals with knowledge of North Minneapolis and urban planning to share their viewpoints. We will be collecting responses here.

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As long as I’ve been working and writing about city planning, a problem keeps coming up in my mind. Things I often consider to be improvements — a new transit project, investing in a beautiful streetscape, replacing a parking lot with a new apartment building –are sometimes greeted with frustration or anger by people in a neighborhood.

How has the citymaking process affected me?

I learned and continue to learn that the work we are engaged in is much bigger than us, and not in vain.

Through this process I have learned there is still lots of work to do, on the north side of Minneapolis, with regards to race, class and gender. As an Ethiopian woman married to an African American man, I’ve noticed how the city making process is vital to undoing much of the issues.

I am skeptically intrigued by the Creative CityMaking project. Although conceptually, attempts to marry city planning and economic development with the arts are omnipresent; the facilitation via Intermedia Arts suggests promise.

How can people who make decisions in city planning departments effectively listen, collaborate, and share power with people who live in the city? How can peoples’ stories be used to affect planning decisions?

For several decades, cities have been designed around the car, not the person, and definitely not the person without a car. At the same time, the aesthetic and sensory experience of moving around a city, including our interaction with buildings and public space, has been dismissed as unimportant, as we have focused on the city as a place for big business.

As I begin to reflect on all that I have learned and experienced over the last year, I am reminded how grateful and fortunate I am to have been selected, along with my collaborators Wing and Jim, for this amazing journey. We have witnessed micro-transformation that we can hope will have a beautiful butterfly effect on the planning process.

So what if you merged the individual artistic process (perceived as subjective, qualitative, serendipitous, playful, emotional, and intuitive), with the urban planning process (perceived as bureaucratic, political, technical, quantitative, and driven by engineering specificity)? As in all stereotypes there is just enough truth to make it a lie.

I think one of the main things I have learned is there is value in taking approaches to planning outside of the standard operating procedures. When we walked up and down Penn Avenue and talked to the people we met we obtained a perspective about the wants and needs of the neighborhood that was different than would be found at a typical community planning engagement meeting. (Click the title to read more!)

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