"It's All About The Quality Of Life"
Next on KSMU, as part of our ongoing series Making A Difference, produced in cooperation with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, we present another Conversation on Collaboration. And today, the importance of working well with others when it comes to Placemaking, which Wikipedia defines as a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces, capitalizing on a local community's, assets, inspiration and potential, with the intention of promoting people’s health, happiness and well-being... Placemaking.
"For me, it's about developing places and experiences that are unique to that particular location and engaging for anybody who visits or lives there,” says architect Tim Rosenbury, the Director of Quality of Place Initiatives for the City of Springfield. His first day on the job was March 1st.
“Quality of Place is one of city council's five objectives in their current work plan," says Rosenbury, "And that is about making Springfield a more attractive community physically and experientially. It's about a certain amount of pride of place and about making a statement about what that place aspires to be."
Tim Rosenbury says when it comes to a community's Place making, collaboration is vital. "Because, one of the characteristics of great places is that they're shared. So it takes shared input. It takes shared interests to express what a place wants to be for all people." he said.
Tim Rosenbury says the successful places come out of a collaborative approach to identifying the reason for creating it. What the project criteria are and how to respond to it with design.
"And then even after you open up this area, you've finished the project, so to speak, you continue to engage stakeholders because every place has a life," Rosenbury said. "It's not like you build it and then suddenly it's going to live forever. It changes over time. It adapts and different people take over ownership and management and contribute to its life."
"A great example of that," he says, is the group Friends of the Garden, and its support for the Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathaniel Green Close Memorial Park.
"And the Friends of the Garden, that is one engaged group, and passionate about our botanical garden. And so that's probably what it means to live in a community, to live in a city where you continue to contribute and not merely consume." Said Rosenbury
Tim Rosenbury’ s comments to KSMU, followed a presentation to donors and community leaders attending a Community Foundation of the Ozarks luncheon on March 2nd. Gary Vernon is program officer at the Walton Family Foundation. He spoke to the group about Placemaking in the form of building mountain bike trails in Northwest Arkansas. The system of trails in and around Bentonville grew from five miles and 2007 to about 150 miles today.
"We collaborate with our local community, and Bentonville became the model," says Gary Vernon. "And we have great parks director David Wright. And Kayleen Griffith is our tourism president for the city. And they got it early. They understand that that mountain bike trails that you can run and hike on, are great asset for their town. So they took that collaboration and did wonderful things with them by hosting events and and marketing the fact that Bentonville has trails. You know, the Northwest Arkansas region is around 400 miles of world class mountain bike trails. So we have become a serious contender in destinations around North America for mountain bike visitors." says Vernon
Statewide, Arkansas now has close to a thousand miles of mountain bike trails.
At the March 2nd CFO luncheon, Gary Vernon touted the economic and health benefits of biking in northwest Arkansas. According to the Walton Family Foundation, in 2017 alone, area business benefits totaled $51 million, while health benefits added up to 86 million. Seventy nine mil in reduced mortality benefits, and seven million dollars in avoided health care costs.
"It's preserving Greenspace," says Gary Vernon. "It's giving healthy activities to children and adults and working with the state on their state parks and adding trails to their already very popular destinations around the statement, but adding another element to keep people active," he said.
Gary Vernon noted that Placemaking, coupled with the affordable cost of living for the region, has great potential for economic development, and Tim Rosenbury, Director of Quality of Place Initiatives for the City of Springfield, agrees.
"It's all about quality of life in order to attract and retain a workforce," says Rosenbury. "Many people are now going to communities where the quality of life is desirable. And so Springfield is realizing that that needs to be a strategy for us to attract the brightest and best, and to be more viable economically." said Rosenbury.
For more information on this and other quality of life, quality of place initiatives supported by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and its 49 affiliate foundations in southern Missouri, www.cfozarks.org For addtional information, https://www.arkansas.com/articles/10-best-mountain-bike-trails-northwest-arkansas https://oztrailsnwa.com/ https://www.springfieldmo.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=6466
For Making A Difference, I'm Mike Smith.