I’ve worked for the City of Fishers, Indiana for three years as the marketing and public relations manager. I love what I do. Partially because I grew up in Fishers and am raising my son here, but also because I’ve been employed by the city while we transitioned from a town to a city of the second-class. In my lifetime our population has grown from a mere 9,000 residents to what we estimate is now about 89,000 residents. Our leaders have had to create a vision for our community and help translate that vision to our 89,000 clients. All in a day’s work huh?
With this growth has come an awareness of everything taking shape within our community, and given my role of helping articulate those changes to the public, placemaking has become something I’m always paying attention to. [If you aren’t familiar with the term placemkaing, I highly suggest catching up on this term with one of my favorite organizations, Project for Public Spaces!] Needless to say, when I recently visited St. Louis, I was reminded a PTO day doesn’t guarantee work won’t be at the forefront of your mind!
While in St. Louis, there were three placemaking markers I was fascinated with the entire trip:
- Fire hydrants that were painted different colors. Is there a cooler way to represent the distinct districts in your community? [For example: in Soulard they were silver in black, in The Hills they were red, white and green, downtown near the arch they were gold and black, and by the Missouri Botanical Gardens they were blue and silver.] I exchanged Tweets with @ExploreStLouis during my long weekend, and they actually didn’t know why the hydrants were painted different colors. But, what a cool placemaking idea?!
- St. Louis is also working on a #FindYourPark campaign, which I happen to love! [I’ll be honest, I love this as a social media user and as the PIO for our parks and recreation department.] Curation content takes time, and what better way to engage your audience than offering them an opportunity to be featured by using a hashtag? Beyond that, in St. Louis, many of the parks are free and all-inclusive. Forest Park, for instance, hosts the World’s First Fair Pavillion, St. Louis Art Museum, a history museum, the St. Louis Zoo and almost 6 miles of lakes, trails, greenways and public art – all of which are free to explore within the park.
- Last but not least, granted this had more to do with the hotel we stayed at! I wasn’t aware of this history in St. Louis, and staying at the Union Station was such a great choice because the staff was so well-educated on that history. Our hotel was built on the first railroad station that was created in St. Louis, and across the midwest, to transport people the world’s first fair. The railway was the primary means of transportation, another huge placemaking component then and now. It was also nice to see a familiar logo displayed as the Nickel Plate Railroad, which traveled through Fishers, Indiana, connected with the railway that led to St. Louis.
Placemaking excites me because it builds community, economic opportunity and vibrancy in a community. Consequently, it also means that vacation is never the same. Traveling only broadens the ideas I have for our community!