August 23, 2016 by
Suzanne Nienaber is partnerships director at the Center for Active Design. Photo courtesy of Center for Active Design.
Across the U.S. our communities are facing disturbing trends related to civic engagement, from low voter turnout to growing social and economic divides. Civic leaders and community residents alike are interested in rebuilding trust, revitalizing neighborhoods and supporting interaction among diverse groups. Meanwhile, promising innovations are emerging across the country. Citizen-led initiatives such as Better Block and Walk Your City are bolstering vibrant street life. Many city leaders and public-private partnerships are working to transform underused infrastructure into dynamic public spaces. Researchers are uncovering new connections between neighborhood design and levels of civic trust.
In light of these significant trends, the Center for Active Design (CfAD) is launching “Assembly: Shaping Space for Civic Life,” a pioneering initiative to leverage place-based design as a tool to enhance civic engagement. Assembly incorporates research as well as practitioner input to develop a set of practical, cost-effective design guidelines to support civic life. With support from Knight Foundation, Assembly also benefits from the guidance of a diverse, multidisciplinary advisory committee.
This summer, we are releasing the Assembly Project Orientation to create a common vocabulary and serve as a resource for partners involved in developing the guidelines. The Project Orientation is available for free download. According to Joanna Frank, our executive director, “This publication will be used to recruit potential collaborators, spark dialogue, and identify real-world projects to illustrate the upcoming design guidelines, which are scheduled for publication in 2018.”