Creative Placemaking Summit comes to Cincinnati

The Midwest’s first Creative Placemaking Summit will take place Oct. 10–12 at the Renaissance Cincinnati Hotel. The goal of the conference, which is hosted by the National Consortium of Creative Placemaking, is to bring people from all walks of life together to create “sustainable, prosperous, equitable, inclusive, and resilient places.”


Cal Cullen, founder and executive director of Wave Pool in Camp Washington, which is one of the local sponsors of the event, has been hoping for a Midwest summit, and is excited that it’s happening in Cincinnati. Cullen will moderate the session about leveraging local community power.


“I presented at the southeast conference in Chattanooga, which was great, but they didn’t have a Midwest summit,” she says, adding that she encouraged them to add one.

Cal Cullen
“For me,” she continues, “I’m so excited that these people are coming from all over the country and we get to showcase Cincinnati.”


The conference has four focus areas — health; placekeeping; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and climate change.


These are topics she’s familiar with through her work at Wave Pool. “How can we make all of the things that we’re doing here really community led?” is a question they ask a lot in Camp Washington.


“And that’s a lot of what creative placemaking is about,” she says, explaining that projects are not just meant to be thought out and then implemented by the artist. “They’re supposed to be — in best case scenarios — they’re collaborative with the residents.”


“That’s the placekeeping — to make sure the changes that are happening are community driven,” she continues.


There are quite a few artists that work in the field of climate change, doing projects that either gain attention or advocate for the environment, or they are creating gardens or planting trees, according to Cullen. In the 70s, artist Joseph Beuys planted 1,000 oak trees in Germany to make a statement.


“It’s not new,” she says, referring to art related to climate change, “but I think the urgency is there right now.”


Local and national speakers include Jamie Bennett, the executive director of ArtPlace America, who will moderate the discussion about arts and public health in America; Steve Driehaus, former U.S. Representative for Ohio’s first district, will lead the session on diversity and inclusion; and Sarah Alan, the program director of The Center for Great Neighborhoods will speak about funding and sustainability and, on the last day, she’ll give a tour called “Placekeeping in Covington’s Westside.”


So far, more than 200 tickets have been sold, and it’s not too late to register. For a list of speakers and breakout sessions, click here.

Read more articles by Jessica Esemplare.

Jessica Esemplare is the managing editor of Soapbox Cincinnati and a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Shortly after completing her degree in magazine journalism, she began covering local and regional topics at The Cincinnati Herald and, later, as an editor at Ohio Magazine. Her writing has also been featured in U.S. News and World Report.
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