Heurista Explores Philanthropic Placemaking

"Curtin partnered with local independent, non-profit cultural organization FORM to bring an international “who’s who” of urban artists to the campus as part of PUBLIC2016. This mural is by American artist HENSE, painted on the ceiling of a new building on campus | Image Credit: Christophe Canato"  Photo: Projects for Public Spaces

"Curtin partnered with local independent, non-profit cultural organization FORM to bring an international “who’s who” of urban artists to the campus as part of PUBLIC2016. This mural is by American artist HENSE, painted on the ceiling of a new building on campus | Image Credit: Christophe Canato"  Photo: Projects for Public Spaces

With the advent of technology, place is no longer bound to a physical location like a building, area or campus. Place is so much more than a particular point in space. Place is the role one plays in a particular community or context. Place is a position in an order or hierarchy. Most importantly, place can be used as a verb meaning to remember or recognize. Placing is the act of recalling one's engagement with the community, including shared values, experiences and understanding.

Broader definitions of the concepts of place are important to our work. Placemaking is an established practice used by community developers. According to the Project for Public Spaces (PPS), a think-tank with more than 20 years experience in the field, placemaking is "a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value." A PPS inspired project, Curtin University, located in Perth, Australia is a great example of thinking outside the box with placemaking. Inspired by the work that PPS did with another local community organization, the University began their own placemaking projects. This led to the transformation of a once very industrial feeling campus into a vibrant place enjoyed by all. Placemaking capitalizes on a community's assets, inspiration and potential with the intention of promoting the well-being of the community as a whole. Sounds a lot like philanthropy, doesn't it?

Heurista is now exploring the concept of philanthropic placemaking. What is the potential of a philanthropic community–one that may or may not share a physical location–to discover and enhance their shared assets and aspirations in order to achieve a common good? And for donor relations and stewardship professionals, what is our role in helping identify those values and assets and the opportunities to create community around them?

We've only just begun this line of thinking. To learn more, consider the eleven principles of placemaking and join us in translating them from urban design to donor community building. Stay tuned for more thinking along these lines from Heurista, and please, email me at anne@heurista.com with your thoughts!