Seattle is home to EDRA’s 43rd Annual Conference

Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, WA. Photo by Henry Domke,

Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, WA. Photo by Henry Domke,

EDRA Annual Conference: “Emergent Placemaking”
May 30 – June 2, 2012
Seattle, WA

Can mankind embrace a more enlightened commitment to human ecology? Do we know how to design and create communities in which human potential, in harmony with nature, can be fully realized?

These are questions that Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation in Seattle, will pose at the 43rd annual Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) conference in Seattle, May 30 to June 2. Hayes will present the keynote address, “Urban Design to Nurture Human Potential” at the four-day, session-packed conference.  The conference theme, “Emergent Placemaking,” speaks to both the potentiality and continuity in our cities, communities and neighborhoods. In addition to several plenary talks, the conference features workshops, paper presentations and mobile sessions to such Puget Sound destinations as Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre estate devoted to offering the public “a tranquil and refreshing experience in nature.”

“Placemaking” is a term used in many settings by individuals committed to grassroots neighborhood improvements, planners envisioning sustainable communities, and developers branding public spaces they hope will become destinations.  The Project for Public Spaces (PPS), defines placemaking as both a philosophy and process:

(Placemaking) takes root when a community expresses needs and desires about places in their lives, even (in the absence of) a clearly defined plan of action. The yearning to unite people around a larger vision for a particular place is often present long before the word “placemaking” is ever mentioned…(It) enables people to realize just how inspiring their collective vision can be, and allows them to look with fresh eyes at the potential of parks, downtowns, waterfronts, plazas, neighborhoods, streets, markets, campuses and public buildings…

In the 1960s, visionaries like Jane Jacobs and William “Holly” Whyte pioneered the concept of placemaking. Jacobs and Whyte argued that urban planners, designers, and developers should design cities that cater to people, not just to cars and shopping centers. They argued that lively neighborhoods, inviting public spaces, vibrant social and cultural hubs create memorable, beautiful, sustainable and  vibrant places where people want to gather, where people want to participate in the community.

In the end, placemaking is a process that serves humanity, ecology, and democracy by striking a balance between the physical, the social and the spiritual qualities of a place.

To learn more details about the conference, view the EDRA43Seattle program, and register for the event, visit Or email questions to

About EDRA: The purpose of EDRA is the advancement and dissemination of environmental design research, thereby improving understanding of the interrelationships between people, their built and natural surroundings, and helping to create environments responsive to human needs.

For an earlier TLN Blog Guest Blog Post by Sally Schauman on the Bloedel Reserve as therapeutic landscape, click HERE.

Many thanks to Filiz Satir, our TLN Blog Events Post volunteer,  for her help!