Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Project for Public Spaces | How to Be a Citizen Placemaker: Think Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper

This is a great concept and follows the do-it-yourself principles of "Build a Better Block."  Lots of good ideas here for making more out of public space.  Here is how "Restaurant Day" transformed Helsinki, Finland:
Building off of that last point, the organizers of Restaurant Day have turned cooking into an excuse for a carnival, giving residents of Helsinki, Finland, a chance to showcase their creativity in the kitchen and turning the city’s streets into a delectable buffet in the process. Their idea to organize a one-day festival where anyone could open a restaurant anywhere (from living rooms to public plazas), started when Antti Tuomola was struggling through navigating the onerous process of starting up a brick and mortar restaurant in the city. Recalls Kirsti Tuominen, one of the friends who works with Tuomola on organizing the event, “We knew from the beginning that we wanted to do something that would be fun, easy, and social at the same time. Something positive. We didn’t want to go the protest route. That’s the not-so-efficient way of trying to make a difference; it’s often better to show a good example and then it’s harder for the opposition.”
The first Restaurant Day took place back in 2011; today, it has been celebrated in cities all over the world. The festival is a brilliant example of how a completely normal daily activity can totally transform a city’s public spaces when approached in a creative way. “The street experience itself was a joy to behold,” wrote City of Sound blogger Dan Hill after participating on one of the festivals. “It truly felt like a new kind of Helsinki. International, cosmopolitan, diverse yet uniquely Finnish…It felt like a city discovering they could use their own streets as they liked; that the streets might be their responsibility.”
Tuominen echoes this in her own reflection on the event, explaining that “[Finland] is so full of regulations that people tend to see regulations even where they don’t exist! That’s been hindering things for a long time, but Restaurant Day has encouraged people to use their public spaces in a new way. Sometimes people just need someone to show them, or give them a gentle kick in the butt, and things will start happening.”
Click title for link to article.  Note that this is the third in a series, so be sure to check out the two preceding articles.