News feeds are usually chalk full of great placemaking projects in big cities. If you are a follower of the movement to (re)create great places then you have probably stumbled across oodles of great examples from famous places. If parks are your thing then you’ve got the inspirational story of Bryant Park in New York City (10.7 million results in a quick Google search). Public markets advocates can look to Barcelona for guidance and ideas (2.1 million results). If you like to root for underdogs then you can check out one of the 1.2 million results under “Detroit Comeback.”
Despite their being of equal inspiration, stories about efforts in small towns are a bit harder to come by. That’s why I’m highlighting a recent effort in Niles, Michigan that shows that there are plenty of passionate, motivated people in small town America who ‘just get it.’ The Michigan Municipal League’s recent project there is proof. The Turn the Corner PlacePlan is the result of months of work in the community (and WITH the community) to draft a blueprint for progress in a key area within the historic district of the city of 11,600 people. Even if you have never been to Niles, it is worth a look. As are the other excellent PlacePlan reports done in communities across the state.
Thanks to our partners at MSHDA for providing funds for the work. And let me give a special shout out to Richard Murphy who spearheaded this project. Great work, Murph!