Dan Gilmartin of MML to Speak in China About Placemaking in Michigan

Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League, is heading to China next week with League Board President Melanie Piana to attend the United Nation’s Habitat Conference on Placemaking.

Gilmartin and Piana, Ferndale city councilmember, are going to Placemaking Week in Wuhan, China to represent Michigan’s placemaking programs at the United Nation’s Habitat Conference on Placemaking. Gilmartin and Piana will attend the Wuhan conference as invited guests of UN Habitat.

Gilmartin was asked to present Michigan’s accomplishments in the field to a group of local leaders from China and several other countries. (Australia, New Zealand and Japan among them). Piana will join Gilmartin in her role as League president, Ferndale councilmember, and Jefferson East executive.

It’s a big deal that our state organization and its members continue to be recognized as examples for others to follow, in the U.S. and globally.

Here is an overview of the conference:

Embracing a wide variety of sectors and disciplines, the event creates a dynamic forum for attendees to develop and share concrete strategies to advance placemaking both locally and globally.

Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province, China. The city, with a population of 10.91 million, is located at the Yangtze River and Han River in the center of China, where major rail and highway networks all cross here. The city is renowned for its large student population, car factories and high-tech industries. UN-HABITAT and WLSP has collaborated since 2016 and will jointly organize the Wuhan Placemaking Week in late 2018.

The theme of WPW is “SHAPING BETTER PUBLIC SPACES: Remaking Places – Transforming Cities”. Chinese cities, including Wuhan, have grown at tremendous speed, especially since the economic opening up, 40 years ago, in 1978. Industrial growth spurred urban growth. China is entering a new phase. The inner cities need renewal, as old functions are becoming obsolete and early building was often fast and of low quality, for sure in terms of public space. Sprawl and peripheries have expanded very fast, especially in the last 15 years, with vast areas of open space of low quality. A new capacity to remake places is needed and this time round, participation with residents will be needed. Placemaking in China is about more than making ugly place beautiful. It will be about creating new collaborations between officials, professionals and communities. This requires a process of advocacy, capacity building and mobilization to remake a quasi-infinite number of places – the sum of which will see the transformation of cities.

WPW will be organized around four partnerships and four sub-themes.

  • Waterfront Placemaking (WPDI – ISOCARP)
  • Historical Street Placemaking (WLSP – PPS – UN-Habitat)
  • Placemaking with Communities (WU – UN-Habitat Global Public Space Programme)