We believe in working with communities to reimagine public spaces, promoting positive activities and increasing safety.
Placemaking focuses on increasing participation in the public square. The philosophy behind placemaking goes back to the 1960s and pioneering writers such as Jane Jacobs who believed the best indicator of the resiliency and safety of a neighborhood is the vitality of its public life.
A good example of our placemaking work is in the efforts in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn. Our Brownsville Community Justice Center helped start a community-wide effort to turn a distressed shopping corridor to a thriving civic and commercial district. The Belmont Revitalization Project created an award-winning space for block parties, festivals, and street markets. The pedestrian plaza was chosen to anchor New York City’s first Neighborhood Innovation Lab. After surveying residents of a local public housing development, the Justice Center also worked with young people to create a youth and community clubhouse on a formerly vacant lot.
Other placemaking work that we have done in Brownsville and in Crown Heights, Brooklyn includes public art installations, neighborhood signage and branding campaigns, and horticulture projects.
Brownsville Community Justice Center
The Brownsville Community Justice Center works to reduce crime and incarceration, and strengthen community trust in justice in central Brooklyn.
Crown Heights Community Mediation Center
The Mediation Center seeks to improve community problem-solving, collaboration, and inter-group relations in Crown Heights.
On our New Thinking podcast, Patrick Sharkey, the author of Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence, discusses the wider costs of violence and the threat posed by inequality and disinvestment to the current fragile gains. He points to the signal role of community organizing and community-based nonprofits in combating violence and building safer, more resilient cities.
This monograph starts with a question: What can we do differently to enhance public safety, reduce the use of incarceration, and improve public perceptions of justice in a Brooklyn neighborhood that experiences both high crime and high rates of incarceration?
Can proactive policing continue to reduce crime while also limiting the disproportionate number of African Americans currently being arrested and jailed? Writing in Governing, our director, Greg Berman, says yes: refine police tactics, engage communities, and invest in community crime prevention.