100in1Day is a global festival of civic engagement that came to Edmonton for the first time on June 4, 2016. Imagine the possibilities for our city if hundreds of people united to participate in small initiatives to spark change!
Over 120 projects occurred across Edmonton. Most projects were small-scale and temporary. Projects included installations, activities, murals, markets, pop-ups, parties and much more. This is one story about 100 in 1 Day, as told by one project leader whose goal was to spark change at Boyle Street.
Before signing up to participate with 100 in 1 Day I had never heard the term placemaking. All I knew is that I loved Edmonton and any chance to participate in a city wide event was a chance I was going to jump at. It was not until after my project was complete, that I started to really understand what placemaking meant to me.
I chose to have my project take place on Boyle Street because I had heard there had been attempts to revitalize the area with new buildings and green space, and I thought that a community BBQ could help this along. Unfortunately it was challenging to get some of my coworkers and friends out there to see what an amazing place it is becoming, and to create new memories to replace our outdated ideas of the community. But for those of us who were willing to take a second look at this street, we got to enjoy the most beautiful day full of food, games, music, laughter, bubbles and even some poetry! This space on Boyle Street will now be known to me as “the place I spent one of the hottest days of summer, eating hotdogs, making friends and getting my first sunburn of the year.”
Often times we set out with one goal or mission in mind, but as we go through the process our mission is altered and goals change. My project was no exception. I had set out to attract people who were not from the area to this unfamiliar space in hopes of opening their eyes to its potential. Perhaps it was peoples’ fear of the unknown (or my lack of social media accounts) but this proved far more challenging than I had anticipated.
When I finally realized that the people who were willing to show up were those already occupying the space, my goal became creating a sense of normalcy for them. Many come from low income housing or are homeless so having a summer BBQ is maybe not something they encounter very often. It’s one of those joys that can be taken for granted. My hope is that they now remember this space as the place we had our first BBQ of the summer.
Placemaking for me is about creating the positive change we want to see in our communities. The community BBQ on Boyle Street was a small step towards creating an identity shift for this space by creating positive connections with the people.
The City of Edmonton’s CITYlab and Make Something Edmonton jointly hosted 100 in 1 Day in collaboration with numerous other community groups and creative individuals. Thank you for an amazing day, and stay tuned for more stories!