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Urban Affairs Review

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DOI: 10.1177/10780874221123207


Creative placemaking has become a popular strategy to revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Who is empowered to participate in these projects and in what capacity? Do such efforts reduce or reinforce existing race-class inequities in community development? Drawing on three years of participant observations, interviews with stakeholders, and analyses of project reports, we use Archon Fung's “Democracy Cube” framework to evaluate a creative placemaking initiative in one of the most segregated cities in the United States. We find that over the course of the project, participation patterns shifted from highly diffuse across many individuals with varied roles to highly concentrated, such that only a few individuals maintained knowledge of ongoing developments in the project. We argue that this shift was not inevitable and discuss strategies that funders and organizations can use to increase equity in placemaking and community development endeavors.


Accepted version. Urban Affairs Review, Vol. 59, No. 6 (November 2023): 1747-2059. DOI. © 2023 SAGE Publications. Used with permission.

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