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GREAT WINTER CITIES SHOW COLD WEATHER CAN BE COOL No Need To Retreat Indoors When Public Spaces Can Bring People Out 12 Months A Year JAY WALLJASPER

Christmas Market– Swiv

Plunging temperatures, snow and long nights don’t have to force us indoors until springtime. Many cities around the world offer inspiring examples of how “placemaking” can help people enjoy lively public spaces and city streets year-round. From Copenhagen to Quebec City to New York, people are flocking to winter outdoor events and celebrations. In an increasingly globalized economy, where businesses and workers have more say in where they locate, winter cities can’t afford to appear lifeless for a quarter of the year. People now choose places to live on the basis of vital local culture. Civic leaders increasingly understand that making public places that are inviting throughout the year, not just when it’s warm and sunny, is essential for a dynamic, prosperous community.

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LEARNING FROM VIENNA, BERLIN AND PARIS Fred Kent, president of the New York-based placemaking organization Project for Public Spaces, came back from a tour of European Christmas markets in Vienna, Salzburg, Paris and Munich amazed at all the public activity in chilly weather. “People were out walking, shopping, going to markets, eating from street vendors,” he reports. “You did not want to go indoors at all because there was so much going on.” Over more than 35 years, Project for Public Spaces (PPS) has worked with citizens in 2,500 communities in 40 countries to enliven their towns and cities by creating great public spaces that bring people together as neighbours, friends and citizens. A key tenet in its work is that local residents are the world’s experts on the particular places they live and should be involved at every level in development and

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redevelopment projects to ensure their economic and social success. Cynthia Nikitin of PPS had an experience similar to Kent’s on a wintertime visit to Berlin. “It gets dark at 3:30. It’s snowing like crazy. But it’s no problem. People are playing bocce ball on the ice. There are tents selling hot mulled wine. You are walking down the street just watching all the other people. Life is good, and winter feels good, too.” The organization’s experiences with placemaking projects in European, Canadian and northern U.S. cities have shown that if people are given the chance to do something they enjoy, they will bundle up and go outside to do it, even when temperatures are below freezing. “It’s like any other time of the year,” Nikitin says. “If there are people out, other people will come out, too, to see what’s going on.

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CURB Magazine 3.1  

Curb Magazine is about policy practice and community experiences in cities, regions, and rural areas. Curb is distributed to municipal offic...

CURB Magazine 3.1  

Curb Magazine is about policy practice and community experiences in cities, regions, and rural areas. Curb is distributed to municipal offic...

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