Community projects are just plain fun to be part of.

I love rolling up my sleeves and working with communities to deliver creative and unique projects. Having said that, knowing how to deliver places with enduring social benefit, beyond the bump out, is the true challenge.

Community-led placemaking is a growing global movement of do-it-ourselves citymaking, where citizens, traders and government come together to breathe new life into streets and neighbourhoods. After delivering a truckload of community-led placemaking projects all over Australia, the team and Valli Morphett here at CoDesign Studio put our heads together and drafted six fast facts that will help you on your way:

codesign active community

  1. Uncover hidden talents.

    Focus on an asset or strengths-based approach to shaping your neighbourhoods. Rather than making assumptions about what your citizens need based on best-practices from elsewhere, unearth local talent, ideas and capacity. Leverage local strengths and unique points of difference.
  2. Empowered communities are your greatest advocates.

    When communities are empowered to shape their local neighbourhoods, they have stronger social connections, a greater local voice and an enhanced sense of personal investment in the ongoing success of their local place. This leads to community stewardship, culture of reciprocity, enhanced local economy and a reputation that spreads like wildfire by word of mouth (the best kind of marketing there is).
  3. Get your hands dirty - together! 

    Community-led placemaking is a tool for fast-tracking community building, particularly in new communities such as urban redevelopment projects or greenfield areas. Nothing accelerates social connections than the process of working together. Think about a period of a time a group of individuals you know held a common purpose, identity, and shared sense of accomplishment for having delivered a project for the collective good of others. Gives me tingles just thinking about it!

    community artwork
  4. Think place, people and process;

    three inseparable principles that will give you the best start to your community project. These principles can also be described as the physical attributes of a place (place), the social attributes including programs and activities (people) and the governance, management, trust, risk and permitting process (process).
  5. Try before you buy.

    You can rapidly move toward becoming more community-led by using low-risk trials. Tactical urbanism, pop-ups and other prototypes provide a mechanism not just for activating spaces, but more critically for discovering and building on the assets and skills in your community and organisation.
  6. Enable the next generation of community leaders.

    Community-led placemaking is a movement for everyone that can be led by anyone, even you! Local citizens have a role to play in stepping up and coming forward with ideas, committing to organising, volunteer management and maintenance. Start with your people, build their capacity and they will continue to deliver local outcomes long after you are gone. They are the greatest asset you have!

Find out more ways to get community outcomes that stick in our new Guide to Community-led Placemaking, and leave a self-sustaining, lasting place legacy that survives and thrives beyond the bump out.