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Making Communities a Place to Call Home

Making Communities a Place to Call Home

People are what make cities and towns more than just a place on a map, but a community.

When most people think about cities and towns, they think of buildings and streets and noisy cars. But when I think of cities and towns, I think about people. They are fundamentally about people. People are what make cities and towns more than just a place on a map, but a community. And where people go and where people meet are at the core of what makes a community work.

Farmers market stalls full of food

Everybody wants a place to call home. But a home is more than just the walls and roof of your house. It’s a place of belonging. It is a place that’s safe and secure. A place to raise your kids and make memories with your friends. A place to walk your dog, or go for a bike ride, or have a picnic. So it’s really a community that creates a home.

Even more important than the buildings in our communities are the public spaces in between them. It’s evident that lively enjoyable public spaces are the key to planning a great community, and that community participation is what makes those places great.

With the turn of the last decade, American towns have seen a resurgence of farmers markets, small shops, and the support local movement. People turn out in droves to take in the fresh smells and buzz of people around stalls selling local produce and products. These markets boast better selections of produce, usually at better prices, where locals can connect and build a relationship with local farmers and artisans. These spaces activate typically quiet places in parks, neighborhood pavilions, or parking lots which long for the hustle and bustle of community life.

Two women hold up t-shirts from a local market stall

But it seems like the underlying reason these markets and small shops are experiencing such increased engagement and business is for the sense of community they create. For many towns and locals, it’s the feeling and vision of vibrancy which sparks conversations and relationships. It’s the creation and activation of public spaces turned into community places that give people a place of belonging and a community to call home.

At the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses, Main Streets, and public spaces were forced to close, and people were observing shelter-in-place orders to help curb the spread of the infectious virus. As people sheltered in their homes, there grew an increased demand in public spaces and a yearning to connect back to the communities we were cut off from. We recognized the meaningfulness of being connected to our neighbors and friends and while we had the safety of our homes, we really needed the greater community to feel at home.

As we see the continued demand within our cities and towns for local places to gather, play, and build a sense of community, we should strive to build avenues for greater community participation. At the heart of creating great spaces, is the input and buy-in from the very people who that place is intended to benefit. When we come together, invite others to share their ideas, we’re able to transform our communities into destinations we’re proud to call home.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to inspire community led, community driven, and community funded interventions that can go far beyond just building a beautiful place, our team at Patronicity can share experiences from working with leaders and community members who’ve become powerful placemakers around the country.