New guidebook presents small-town, Michigan examples of placemaking

“Northern Michigan Community Placemaking Guidebook” is revealed as a resource for local leaders and residents to create more vibrant, prosperous communities.

The Northwest Michigan Council of Governments (NWMCOG) recently convened the second annual Placemaking Summit for its member counties of Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Manistee, Missaukee, and Wexford. Events were held in both Traverse City and Petoskey on May 21and attracted more than 300 community leaders and residents in total. The event featured state and national experts, provided local examples of placemaking best practices, and convened locals in dialogue about the future of their communities.

Also at the Placemaking Summit, event organizers unveiled the newly-created Northern Michigan Community Placemaking Guidebook. The Guidebook describes placemaking as a citizen-led, grassroots strategy that fosters partnership with public agencies to identify spaces that need improvement, assess their current condition, vision the future condition and develop action plans to transform public spaces into great places that are easy to get to; safe, clean and attractive; full of fun activities; and are friendly places where people want to be (p.7).

The Northern Michigan Community Placemaking Guidebook is a resource available to anyone wishing to create a vibrant, prosperous community – not just local governments in northwest lower Michigan. Whether in Leelanau or the Keweenaw, the Guidebook is intended to help local leaders learn how to create greater definition and identity for their communities. The goals of the Northern Michigan Community Placemaking Guidebook are to:

  1. Foster an understanding of the 11 Principles of Placemaking.
  2. Introduce the basic elements that create a place where people want to meet neighbors and business may be conducted.
  3. Advance the role placemaking plays in community vitality.
  4. Learn steps associated with “creating a great place” in your community.
  5. Bring groups of interested residents and elected/appointed local leaders and community leaders together on improving public space.
  6. Develop a plan for quick, short-term and long-term ideas and projects to improve a selected public space.
  7. Build consensus for future local spaces and places worthy of placemaking and of value to the community.
  8. Create a common language helping to communicate the value of placemaking and helping to build placemaking community coalitions.

Also at the Summit, the NWMCOG announced an initiative to collect placemaking stories from across the region through a new, user-populated website called The website is intended to act as a compiler of good placemaking ideas shared by neighbors and communities throughout the region. It will serve as the northern Michigan-specific companion to the State of Michigan’s placemaking initiative,

For more information about the Guidebook, visit or contact the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments at (231) 929-5000.

For more information about placemaking in Michigan, see the followingMichigan State University (MSU) Extension news articles:

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