The resounding success of the Global Placemaking Summit in Mexico City is deeply intertwined with the city itself. The vibrant atmosphere and warm spirit of Mexico City brought placemaking principles to life and set a standard for the collaborative and celebratory essence of such events. Against the backdrop of the city's enchanting streets and public spaces during Día de Los Muertos, it became evident that the host city played a pivotal role in shaping an unforgettable experience, charting a course for future impactful gatherings.

In November, we participated in the first Global Placemaking Summit, organized by our partner organizations – PlacemakingX and Placemaking Mexico. It was an incredible experience in the heart of Mexico City, where placemaking leaders from all around the world gathered to share their experiences, inspire each other, and pave the way for the movement’s next steps.

At the event, 40 different agendas were discussed by 150 leaders in the field worldwide. Among these agendas were the importance of inside-out design, amenities, art in public places, placemaking for women and children, public markets, waterfronts, and so much more.

You can read a summary report of the key conversations and panels from PlacemakingX here.

We at the Social Life Project have written extensively about many of these topics as we hope to help guide future conversations and placemaking efforts.

Many of PlacemakingX's 33 Regional Placemaking Networks were represented at the Summit.

The Venues

Each of the Summit's three venues offered a unique and special experience that captured the spirit of placemaking. One was a site transformed into a thriving multi-use urban garden in just ten years. Another venue was at what used to be a parking lot but has now been turned into a vibrant food court and meeting place through LQCs, and the final venue was a plaza in a park where, with a human-powered generator, we could screen The Place Man documentary. Together, these venues gave us experiences we relished.

The Transformed Parking Lot

This venue was spectacular because, until very recently, there was nothing here. If you search it on Google Maps, the location is still listed as a parking lot! As a true example of successful placemaking, it has been fully transformed by just a few simple, community-led changes. Shipping container pop-up bars and restaurants, benches and tables, and colorful murals interspersed with lights have turned this parking lot into a beloved gathering place and event venue.

Movie Night - The Place Man

At the beginning of January 2024, we will make The Place Man documentary available for all to see. The film follows Fred Kent, Kathy Madden, and Steve Davies on their journey of growing the placemaking movement over the past 50 years. We were fortunate to pre-premiere the film in a flowering public park where the projection was powered by a bike!

The Main Venue - Huerto Roma Verde

The main venue was something unlike anything we’ve ever seen before - the ultimate multi-layered hub.

Huerto Roma Verde began as an urban garden built after an earthquake destroyed two buildings. In ten years, it has been transformed from tragedy and rubble into a thriving ecosystem with a restaurant, outdoor market, meeting rooms, conference hall, pottery studio, fountain, music room, and so much more. It is a place where everyone in the community can gather and find a spot that calls to them and makes them feel at home. 

These are the kinds of places we want more of - public places that are inviting for everyone, that are accessible to all, that are vibrant and fun and electrified by joy, social life, and play. This is what placemaking is all about. It felt right that Mexico City and these great venues would host the first global placemaking conference, marking a new era for the movement defined by international connection and collaboration.

Agenda Development Sessions

The Dome - Presentation Hall

Huerto Roma Verde Square and Market - Central Gathering Place

Night market

Art Spaces

Inside/Outside row of stalls and cafes facing the street

It's not just the inside of the Huerto that's amazing - the outside is an excellent example of inside-out design, connecting the venue to the public realm of the sidewalk.

Celebrating After the Event


Video shot by Placemaking for Women Agenda Co-Leader: Nourhan Bassam

Where Do We Go From Here - Next Steps for Social Life

Now that we are joining forces with placemakers from around the globe, we feel it is the right time to develop a clear set of focus areas and goals to help propel the renaissance of social life we are trying to create. For this reason, we proudly launched our Five Main Campaigns at the conference to bring vibrancy, health, and joy back to our communities.

Campaign Launch: A Bench on Every Corner...Is More Than Just a Bench

In honor of the first campaign "A Bench on Every Corner...Is More Than Just a Bench" we practiced what we preach and put a bench out on the corner of the venue! It became an instant hotspot, attracting people of all kinds to sit, chat, and connect from morning to evening. We hope it will continue to catalyze social and commercial life in this area, as all benches have the power to do.

The bench was installed by Fundación Placemaking México at the corner in front of our beautiful #GlobalPlacemakingSummit venue, Huerto Roma Verde.  

A Bench on Every Corner...But Not Just A Bench
A bench is not just a bench. What happens around it makes it catalytic. This seemingly simple amenity can grow to become a key for transforming not just a corner but an entire community.

Mexico City Highlights

Of course we can't forget to talk about the broader venue - the city itself! Mexico City is so full of life and color, overflowing with great destinations and activities. This was especially true for the duration of the Summit because the magnificent Day of the Dead festivities were happening at the same time.

Day of the Dead Parade - a joyful honoring of the dead

The people

Corner street vendors and seating

Double-Loaded Sidewalks

The first Global Placemaking Summit was a fantastic event, and we were inspired by all the excellent placemaking work being done worldwide. Stay tuned for more, and thank you for participating in this movement to usher in a renaissance of social life in our communities!

Get Involved: Learn more about becoming a PlacemakingX advocate here.

Stay in Touch: Sign up for the Social Life Project Newsletter here.

Home | Global Placemaking Summit
The Global Placemaking Summit brings together Placemaking leaders worldwide to shape the agendas of the movement going forward. The summit will be November 1st-5th, 2023, in Mexico City.
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Next Steps for the Global Placemaking Movement
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The mission of the Social Life Project is to incite a renaissance of community connection in public spaces around the globe. Our work grows out of more than 50 years devoted to building the global placemaking movement. It is an initiative of the Placemaking Fund, along with PlacemakingX — a global network of leaders who together accelerate placemaking as a way to create healthy, inclusive, and beloved communities. Through our online publication, presentations, campaigns, and catalytic projects, we can create transformative impact on communities everywhere.

If you are interested in helping to build a community-wide campaign or catalytic interventions, presentations, exhibits, or in supporting the cause in some other way contact us.
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