For our last blog post of the year we asked our staff to speak a little bit on what their biggest takeaways and learnings are from 2015 and what they are most looking forward to for 2016.

Jamie B.
In 2015, I learned that the Upper Peninsula of Michigan may be the most beautiful place in the United States. 

And I also learned that the number one issue in community development – with no close second – is site control.  Those who control a community’s sites, control the future of that community in ways that I have not yet seen a way to overcome.

As I look ahead to 2016, I am resolving to spend more time thinking about and working with faith-based communities and the private market.  I realize that I tend to think only about the roles that government, nonprofits, and philanthropy play in community development – which is, perhaps, not surprising, as I have only worked in government, nonprofits, and philanthropy.  But more and more, I realize that I am missing huge swaths of communities by not explicitly engaging with religious networks, small businesses, and major corporations. 

Oh, and that 15 pounds.  I would really like to do something about that next year.


My biggest take away from 2015 is that transitions are difficult and exciting at the same time and that change is good even when you are very unprepared for it. ArtPlace resolution for 2016 is to expand my knowledge of creative placemaking by getting to know more people and organizations doing great work across the country.


2015 marked my first year at ArtPlace. It has been thrilling to work and learn alongside such a brilliant team of leaders! My biggest take away from this year is that the work of creative placemaking is defined by many in very different ways. Like most of us, I have several new year resolutions, but if I had to pick just one, it would be engaging more with our grantees and getting to know them and their projects and communities much better.


F. Javier
2015 was a great year that allowed me to travel to so many incredible places and meet an innumerable amount of passionate community leaders. This may sound funny but 2015 taught me that having TSA Pre-check is essential to my being able to get from one place to another. I highly recommend it for anyone who travels!

Because of the richness, nuance, and complexity of the communities we visit, my resolution for 2016 is to build in more time for reflection to ensure I do justice to the experiences being shared and the learning possible in stillness.


In 2015, I had the opportunity to visit six very distinct regions of the country (Alaska, California, rural Minnesota, Philadelphia, various places across the Southwest, and various places across the Southeast) on three separate occasions (outreach, site visits, and initial community forums for the CDI program). In addition to learning that the right pair of boots can work equally well for a snowstorm in rural Alaska as it can for 60 degree weather in New Mexico, I also discovered that while the color palettes of the vistas, the design of the buildings, and the makeup of the local economies might be strikingly different, the one constant is change. Every place is constantly changing and every person in every place is constantly having to renegotiate their relationship to how that place is changing in regards to their individual identity, lifestyle, and access to opportunity.

My resolution for 2016 for ArtPlace is to build in more moments for reflection and sharing so that I can both better process the changes in my own thinking about the work I’m doing and offer greater access to what I’m so privileged to experience day in and day out through conversations with colleagues and travel to so many incredible communities.


Jamie H.
2015 represented a huge learning curve for me, both in terms of getting the lay of the arts research land as well as realizing how much I simply don't know about what goes on in professional fields outside of design and the arts. As I dove (with some incredible new colleagues) into research focused on public health, housing, and public safety, huge new worlds of thinking and seeing opened up to me. Key texts and thought leaders emerged on issues that I very much care about, but wasn't oriented to intellectually.

So my resolution for 2016 is related: I'd love to read at least one critical book or essay for every field scan ArtPlace takes on. This year it was Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and Root Shock by Mindy Fullilove; I can't wait to see what lands on my reading list in the next few months. 


2015 was such an exciting year for us.  My biggest takeaway is that the community of people that engage with creative placemaking and the content across our blog, social platforms, and in-person events is phenomenal.  Your perspectives really help define my work, and I’m grateful to have such outstanding collaborators.

In 2016 I hope to build upon our success thus far and work with you to more proactively chart a trajectory for our field.  We’ve made great strides in reflecting on our past, understanding our present, and exploring possibilities for the future.  Now, at the halfway mark of ArtPlace’s 10-year existence, it’s time to come together and map our vision for what can be accomplished in these next five years.  But first… let’s pause for some gingerbread and time with loved ones.  Happy Holidays!


Like Sarah and Leila, 2015 was a year of NEW for me, with a lot of changes and adventures, which I’m sure will continue into 2016. I’m very grateful for the lovely new coworkers in my life and the things I’ve learned so far. For 2016 I’m excited to partake in our National Creative Placemaking Process for the very first time, and discover in what new ways people are using creative placemaking out in the world.


See you all again in 2016 for another year of learning, growing and sharing.
Happy New Year,
The ArtPlace America Team!