GUEST OPINION: Community Engagement in Santa Clara

Community Engagement in Santa Clara
By Kirk Vartan

There are many great community engagement events happening this month, but the most exciting is the Projects for Public Spaces one next month in Santa Clara on June 10. PPS is leading a session called the Power of 10+.

And if you didn’t see PPS in action when they were here in March (or Don Weden’s excellent workshop), please refer to the summary page here.

While I hope you can attend many of these events (please choose the ones most important to you), I would ask you to seriously consider the Power of 10+ event on June 10.

The primary reason to attend events like this: Be Engaged. While this may seem obvious, many of us see the massive structural changes happening around us, whether it is a development in your neighborhood or traffic on the streets you use from another. The fact is, the suburban area of yesterday needs to embrace the urban designs of today and tomorrow. It is easy to say “No more!” to any one project, but how many are you saying “YES!” to any? I would suggest that lack of “YES!” actions is because we (the community) are not effectively involved in the process (no need to discuss the broken community engagement portion of the development process).

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Our Mayor and Council are doing something not many cities ever do: Actively Engage the community at a City level. They are funding many efforts to build great places and to encourage the extraordinary. Whether it is a panel or the incredible Project for Public Spaces team leading the event, you should try to attend as many as you can. This is how you shape your city! Rather than sitting in meetings and being angry about the change, be part of the process and make the change a good thing. Change is happening … don’t get left out of the discussion. But be prepared and open to learn too. We need to balance current wants with what our area needs. There is not a single solution that will fix our problems today … none. We have challenges that we created. Now let’s use that innovative and entrepreneurial spirit to vision what we need. That’s what we do here in the Center of What’s Possible … let’s not just say it, let’s do it!

The City of Santa Clara continues to provide leadership in the region by focusing on placemaking, creating great places, and enhancing quality of life. For more details, you can visit the City’s Placemaking page.

Editor’s Note:  Tomorrow we’ll have a brief description of placemaking events and speakers.

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