OED re-imagines Placemaking during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Vibrant public places help build a stronger campus, neighborhood and city. The University’s Office of Economic Development (OED) leads collaborative placemaking initiatives to make campus more active and engaging. Much of our work focuses on enhancing public spaces.
Our placemaking projects, and placemaking more broadly, look very different during the COVID-19 pandemic. A primary way we have stayed connected to our placemaking community while social distancing is through our PlaceMakers newsletter and Instagram. In April, our Instagram featured creative placemaking responses to COVID-19, including fun in-home activities and safe ways to enjoy the outdoors. Our current series highlights inspiring placemaking projects from around the world. Other topics from recent months include the benefits of biking, before-and-after photos from around campus, and the importance of equity and inclusion in placemaking.
As Wayne State prepares for the fall semester, OED is exploring ways to safely invite people to use Woodward | Warren Park because even during a global pandemic—which is forcing us to re-think everything—demand for public space is clear, as are the benefits. A National Parks and Recreation Association survey found that “83 percent of adults consider exercising at local parks and spaces essential to maintaining physical and mental health during the pandemic, and 59 percent believe it is ‘very or extremely’ essential to exercise in parks and green space to relieve crisis-related stress and remain healthy.” according to a recent piece the Urban Land Institute.
Wayne State's campus is the largest public space in Midtown and while Woodward | Warren Park programming is on hold, we want area residents to know that they are welcome to safely use and enjoy this space. Our new sidewalk graphics are an informative and fun way to extend that invitation. They include engaging activities like a word search, an “I Spy” game and dance steps. These large graphics are 6 ft. long—a helpful visual aid for social distancing—and are located near the five bench seating areas in the park. Smaller eye-catching dot graphics on the park sidewalks (pictured) remind visitors to wear face coverings and consider bringing a chair or blanket and bottled water from home.
In addition to the sidewalk graphics and our regular online content, OED has also created coloring pages highlighting fun events in the park. Download snapshots of scenes from the WSU Farmers Market, Winter Art and Retail Market (WARM), Noel Night and more here.