2020, The Year that Turned Cities, and the Placemaking Movement, Upside-Down

In a challenging year where we all did our best to stay home, it was also one in which we rethought and reorganized how we shape the spaces we share outside of our homes. After retreating from certain aspects of public life, it became clearer than ever that our public spaces are essential to our social life, our health, and as a part of our economic recovery.

2020 shook everything up for all of us, but also became a year primed for turning things upside-down; for the shaping of cities to start with sidewalks and people-powered places.

Public spaces have been the new focus of saving cities and small business, unleashing new community-driven creativity, for which placemakers have long demonstrated and advocated. The placemaking movement adapted and grew in ways we’ve never seen before, defined and driven by its local and regional leaders and networks.

Highlights of the Year

PlacemakingX has its global launch at World Urban Forum 10 (February 2020).

The global launch of PlacemakingX at the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi included placemaking leaders from many regional networks.

After launching PlacemakingX in 2019, accompanied by lively in-person regional network launches around the world, 2020 kicked off with a global launch of PlacemakingX at the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi.

PlacemakingX convenes our 80+ regional placemaking leaders.

Being forced to go fully digital proved helpful to these goals, with many successful virtual conferences and webinars shaping the conversation, and leading to on-the-ground action.

After WUF, we gathered the PlacemakingX regional leaders on Zoom to share and shape plans for the year. Much of our work has been driven by the regional placemaking leaders. We are very grateful for their wisdom, organizing, and action, and look forward to further supporting and amplifying their work.


PlacemakingX supports growth of regional networks and conferences.

This year we’ve worked to form, connect, and grow the now 15 regional placemaking networks that make PlacemakingX so exciting. We also began to connect them, and coordinate with them, on cross-cutting issues.

Regional Placemaking Networks

In the Works

Placemaking Africa

Placemaking Cuba

UK Placemaking Collective


Placemaking Bhutan

PlacemakingX hosts webinars on the critical issues of 2020:

Many regional events supported and participated in:

  • The year wrapped up strong with PlacemakingX supporting regional placemaking conferences and events, growing regional conversations while amplifying local expertise globally:

Building PlacemakingX

The increasingly grassroots, virtual, and global dimensions of the placemaking movement have been exactly what PlacemakingX hoped to facilitate in our first full year. To meet this challenge and momentum, we formed a board and a strategic plan with our Start-up Team to guide and support the growth of the organization.

On a very sad note, we mourn the passing of our communications director, Jay Walljasper, who lost his battle with cancer on December 22nd. In addition to being a dear friend and colleague for two decades, Jay had been central to founding and growing the placemaking movement and to the recent formation of PlacemakingX. We will celebrate and share his writing and do our best to continue his great work.

What's in store for 2021

We are all looking forward to 2021, and the changes it will bring. As the regional networks continue to strengthen, we will increasingly focus on cross-cutting agendas that unite placemakers everywhere and will seek new funding and partnership opportunities.

Stay tuned for announcements of new programs on topics like Place-Led Development, Placemaking for Regenerative Tourism, and Placemaking for Recovery. Also, many conferences are already in the works, including ones in Japan, Spain, Colombia, China, the United States, and India.

And make sure you follow the throught-provoking articles and images of The Social Life Project, our sister program of The Placemaking Fund.

Thank you to all of you who have helped us take this movement to the next level, or are poised to get involved going forward. We need your continued help to realize the power of placemaking to achieve global change.

Help us accelerate and amplify the cause of public space and placemaking for global impact.

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