The city’s initiative for 289 Derby Street is an excellent example of enlivening not just a public space, but the public process. In traditional public meetings many people don’t have the time or feel that they can attend and speak at a public meeting* but the organizers of this event seem to be taking creative steps to make this an inclusive process. This is an excellent opportunity for collaborative placemaking on a site that has a strong tie to Salem’s maritime and industrial history.
In Salem, as in other places, our city is recognized for its open space as much as its buildings.
In the case of the site in question this “new” public space has the potential to continue a vibrant chain of public spaces (attached – public space map) that connect the downtown to the waterfront; and among other uses is an excellent location for educating us on the physical shape of our city when the land was created by landfilling, and strengthening our connection to the water and to the larger world as a historical shipping port and world influencer.
HSI Board Member John Schneider wrote in his recent essay on the importance of public space, “Public spaces are important for … the capacity of cities to endow their residents and visitors with a broadly inclusive social experience that … invites a feeling of mutuality, and … civic pride.”
So come! Help the city make this a “broadly inclusive social experience” by sharing what matters to you. Attend as many of these outdoor, family friendly, lively events as you can. Share what matters to you and learn what matters to your neighbors. Seize the opportunity to be part of this innovative process.
*Though, I can assure you that you have every right to do so, no expertise or social status needed. If you want help crafting what you’ll say at a public meeting, contact us and we are happy to help talk you through it.