Placemaking for peacemaking.
With nearly 16 years of experience working with UN agencies and international organizations, Rony has extensive knowledge managing and monitoring projects related to governance, civil society, the municipal sector, strategic planning, livelihood, and urban analysis.
As a senior fellow at Project for Public Spaces (PPS), Rony coined the phrase “Placemaking for Peacemaking”, in an inspiring article under the same title.
He is the founder of Placemaking MENA and the Placemaking MENA Regional Network.
Rony holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning and a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering and Political Science. He teaches at different universities in Lebanon and is a visiting professor at Pratt University, in New York City.
Placemaking creates inclusive places to reduce discrimination and social tension among segregated communities. It encourages the “other” to find a place where he/she feels welcome and respected, and provides peacemaking efforts a physical place in which to enhance dialogue. Placemaking is to create a place with the people, for the people.
Encountering the ideas of placemaking was a turning point in my career. I first came across them through Project for Public Spaces, in 2015. I left my job with UN-Habitat, traveled to New York City with my family, and started a fellowship with PPS.
I used to go with my cousins and friends to a pine forest near a refreshing water spring in the Lebanese mountains, in my hometown of Bhersaf. We’d go alone, without our parents, and spend the whole day there.
My favorite place in Lebanon is Manara, a waterfront in Beyrut. It is an amazing place to meet all Lebanese from different community groups, economical and social status, religious backgrounds and political affiliations. We are all there, using the public space and enjoying the beautiful view of the snowed Lebanese mountains.
I am a very good Lebanese cuisine cook.
Rony has promoted the placemaking concept providing courses, lectures and workshops throughout Lebanon, MENA region and abroad. He developed a curriculum on placemaking for a university course and workshops, linking them to real projects, mainly in deprived neighborhoods. He uses placemaking to increase the provision of public space through joining the efforts of universities, local authorities, NGOs and the private sector.
Founder of Placemaking MENA, in 2018, a non-profit to support local communities to transform their public spaces into places that serve common needs and aspirations. Additionally, he created the Placemaking MENARegional Network, connecting placemakers in different countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
The difference between placemaking and peacemaking in only one letter. Like placemaking, peacemaking requires courage, compassion, and collaboration. We must begin to work towards ensuring sustainable peace among the different groups of a community.