Session Details

Places in Crisis: A case study of placemaking and “lighter, quicker, cheaper” approaches amid the social challenges of the 21st century

Focus Area: Places that are for people
Format: Breakout Panel
Full Description: “The safety issue in the downtown has reached what we would say is a crisis level and it must be addressed…I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite this serious.”

When Project for Public Spaces says this to your City Council, it’s going to take more than a little yarn-bombing and a few lawn chairs to create successful places in your downtown.

Like many other places across the country, downtown Eugene, Oregon, is facing social issues that include homelessness, transience, mental health, and runaway youth – challenges that are emerging as defining features of this decade’s social landscape. Eugene’s social services have been unable to keep up with demand, and much of the negative behavior downtown is unwelcoming but not criminal. Many in the community have given up on ever coming downtown, describing it as “dirty” and “unsafe”.

In response to public outcry and with help from PPS, the City of Eugene launched a placemaking campaign in 2017. Staff from every department in the City came together in a unique and successful model for cross-departmental collaboration. Using an interdisciplinary approach and a strategic blend of initiatives to address a spectrum of challenges, gradual but positive progress has been made. There’s no manual to turn to, just test, learn and test again. The path to creating a safe, vibrant and welcoming downtown is long, but Eugene is moving forward and committed to reaching its destination in collaboration with community partners.


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