Gore Park

1st ACT Silicon Valley

Funding Received: 2011
San Jose, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
April 18, 2012

1stACT Silicon Valley and the City of San Jose are partnering with the SoFA District, the arts and entertainment district in downtown San Jose, to transform a small pocket park into an "outdoor living room." The park will be expanded and the adjacent street will be closed, creating a plaza, event space and destination for the district, adjacent neighborhoods and the downtown as a whole. On May 12, the surrounding arts organizations will host ArtHouse, a day-long festival that takes place in and out of doors at the many arts organizations along the street. The expansion of the park and closure of the street will allow future events of this kind to be much larger, and more visible, vibrant and inviting to the community.

This month ArtPlace asked Connie Martinez, CEO and managing director of 1stACT Silicon Valley, to share her thoughts regarding the three keys to creative placemaking. She responded as follows:

Placemaking is increasingly important as cities compete for talent and resources. It is especially needed here in Silicon Valley--one of the most technologically advanced and successful places in the world--where the abundance of innovation and creativity is not readily visible in the built environment.

The first key is leveraging resources. Every region has a unique character and strengths that can be used to connect residents to their cities. Build on and highlight what you have to offer. This also creates a feeling of authenticity and allows things to build naturally, rather than imposing something new and out of character on a community.

The second key is collaboration. Placemaking is difficult work than cannot be accomplished by one person or one organization. Working in the public realm always involves a myriad of stakeholders, agendas and concerns. Finding common ground and a common vision is essential.

This is closely connected to the third key, which is setting the table with the right people. Successful placemaking requires a diversity of perspectives. It cannot be done in a vacuum and needs a broad base of support to really take hold in a community.

These three keys lead to the multiple benefits of placemaking. It builds community, not only through the physical space that is improved or created, but through the creative process that the stakeholders pass through together and the resulting sense of partnership and shared accomplishment.