New report documents more than a decade of placemaking in Michigan

Since the early 2000s, the Michigan Municipal League has been working to introduce placemaking concepts and policies throughout the state. On Tuesday, Sept. 12, MML held a press conference to celebrate the release of A Decade of Placemaking in Michigan, a 20-page report highlighting MML's efforts and successes in placemaking, and also its plans for the future.

More than a decade ago, Michigan faced an uncertain economic future as its manufacturing base declined. MML identified placemaking as a key strategy in retaining residents and businesses. Make the state's towns and cities more desirable to live in, and people would choose to live in them, rather than move out of state. It's as much about competition as it is anything else.

Outreach has been a big part of MML's efforts, as they informed people and communities about the practice of placemaking. Presentations, training, books, and a radio show have all played a key role in their spreading the word. They also created an award-winning Michigan Placemaking Curriculum at Michigan State University.

In their work, MML identified eight assets in making Michigan communities more desirable: physical design and walkability, green initiatives, cultural economic development, entrepreneurship, welcoming diversity, messaging and technology, multimodal transportation, and education. And programs like PlacePlan and PlacePOP helped implement like-minded projects.

In its report, MML identifies financing as a major issue heading forward, contending that the state of Michigan has a broken municipal finance system and that communities need more money to be able to invest in improved infrastructure and services.

Click here to read the full report.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.