Civic Infrastructure

Creative Communities

Civic Infrastructure

Sustaining and Sharing the Value of Parks, Libraries and other Civic Assets

Most deeply, Civic Infrastructure calls for a change in mindset among practitioners, advocates, funders, designers, and others involved in civic asset redevelopment. Redevelopment, as the term suggests, takes advantage of already-existing places with deep histories and cultural richness, seeking to sustain and improve them. We need to stop thinking about redevelopment as only pertaining to a bounded site or a particular capital investment. Likewise, we should abandon the idea that any one factor—a great design, an infusion of funds, a new civic engagement effort—can itself create a successful project. Practitioners and decision-makers should be inspired to think about the unfolding of projects at multiple scales (site, system and policy), over a longer timeframe, through an “ecosystem” lens highlighting the importance of partnerships.

Our analysis emphasizes three distinct scales of operation in redevelopment efforts. We find they have both geographical and practical significance:
• The site scale refers to a particular, bounded project or location (a single building or park, for instance).
• The system scale refers to a collection of sites with similar functions (a park system or library system) or within a neighborhood or district (perhaps including a school, library, park, rec center, or other assets).
• The policy scale refers to municipality-wide (not place-specific) laws, regulations, and organizational strategies as well as practices, norms, political cultures that operate across an entire city. (This broad notion of “policy” will be used throughout the report.)

Varied actors, resources, ideas and partnerships operate at and across these scales—and we distinguish between the three scales in order to emphasize the relationships between them as a decisive factor in redevelopment efforts. The factors contributing to redevelopment (funding, organizations, programs, etc.) are connected like the elements of an ecosystem, in which relationships between factors are as significant as the factors themselves.


Published: June 2018
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