Stop waiting for change to take place in your city – get out and change it yourself, by Brooke Williams.

Have you ever wished your hometown was a little more exciting?  That there was more to do on the weekends? Or that your neighbourhood was greener?  Do you hope that one day your kids will play with the others on the street and that when you visit the public spaces in your city they will be jam-packed with people relaxing, playing and socialising?

I love my home city of Brisbane, but I know I am not alone in my dreams for it to become more active and engaging.

Do you, like me, miss those friends who have moved on to more engaging cities; Melbourne, London and New York for example? You are sure your city could be better and are just waiting for it to happen. Let us inspire you to make that change happen now!

Placemaking is a global movement built out of the realisation that the best places in the world are owned, loved and created by the people who live and socialise there.  At CoDesign, we strive to see citizens, governments, developers, and traders making changes (both big and small) to create an environment where local contributions to city-making are an everyday practice.

We know making the leap toward community-led placemaking is not always easy. We have grown up in a culture where we are disengaged from the city-making process.

There are many rules and obstacles in the way of genuine participation and establishing support networks with like-minded collaborators can be daunting. Much more is possible once we realise that we personally, can contribute and support change. But often, it's just that we have never considered the possibility that we can do something about it. So what can we do to make the cities where we live a place that we never want to leave?

  Life on the streets - Palmwood's

Every community has untapped resources and talent just waiting to be discovered and celebrated. These are the local secrets that make every place unique. The small hinterland town of Palmwoods on the Sunshine Coast was struggling to find their identity and point of difference, positioned amongst larger more established regional communities.

Local business' and creatives collaborated to deliver Palmwoods Village Harvest, a 5-week jam-packed program with over 60 events that successfully promoted the town's talent and business to a regional audience. Using the streets, public spaces and restaurants as a stage, the community delivered a rich cultural experience with exhibition openings, lane events, and shared meals. This was augmented by performing art and street events (such as live music, a Smoothie Bike, and face painting).

A Council that encourages creativity and participation - Palmerston North

We often talk about policy changes and rethinking the current procedures for permits as the key to creating an enabling environment for community-led placemaking.  Palmerston North City Council in New Zealand have gone beyond policy changes and have provided a platform (literally) to promote the transformation of parking spaces into active public spaces.  On top of that, they have a passionate team of place facilitators helping communities to navigate permits and procedures and are inspiring traders and other community groups to get involved in shaping their town. For more information contact Keegan at Palmerston North City Council.

Palmerston North Street

Advocating for city change

Community contribution can come in many scales, from the small local community garden to major city change. For example, it's unknown to many but New York's famous destination, The High Line, exists today only because locals advocated to save the historic rail line. The Friends of the High Line is a community group begun by two locals who saw a better vision for a disused elevated railway line then its plans to be demolished.

Together, they convinced city-making professionals to save the infrastructure and convert it into an elevated parkland spanning over twenty-three city blocks on Manhattan's West Side. There has been much said about the gentrification impact of this iconic project - but it still stands as a shining example of citizen-led city making. Image source:


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If you are keen to contribute to the life and growth of your neighbourhood, and you want to see change happen now, be sure to check out the tips in CoDesign Studio's Community-led Placemaking Guide.