Michigan Prosperity Agenda: The Evolution of Placemaking

Michigan Prosperity Agenda: The Evolution of Placemaking


We kicked off the first Prosperity Agenda radio show at News/Talk 760 WJR in January 2010, and we’ve seen placemaking come a long way since then. We know the importance of creating places where people want to live, work and enjoy, enabling people to build communities they love. The Michigan Municipal League has been instrumental in helping Michigan communities become engaged in placemaking, working with many partners over the years.

On our final radio show on June 22, 2016, we brought together state and international experts in placemaking who have worked with us at the League and used their ideas to turn around cities such as Detroit. .

It’s an ongoing project, and there is always another community that can benefit from placemaking. So there was a lot to talk about. League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin was the regular co-host of the show and the guest co-host for the last show was Natalie Burg, writer and owner of Vail Half Full Communications in Ann Arbor. Guests were placemaking author Peter Kageyama; Fred Kent, founder and president of Project for Public Spaces; and placemaking innovator Josh McManus, of Rock Ventures.

The show aired 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, on News/Talk 760 WJR, but you can listen anytime on the audio links below. Listen as we talk about the conference and how people are building better Michigan communities.

View past radio shows here. You can also listen anytime by clicking on the audio links below or by subscribing to the FREE iTunes podcast. Learn more about the League’s placemaking work here on this blog.


Listen to the full show: (37:50)





Dan Gilmartin

Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, explains that the Prosperity Agenda radio show is about challenging listeners to help make Michigan a better place to live, work and play. Gilmartin said having vibrant and prosperous local communities is a key factor.

Dan Gilmartin explains this month’s show. (1:22)


Natalie Burg

Natalie Burg is a writer and owner of Vial Half Full Communications in Ann Arbor. A former downtown development professional, she covers entrepreneurship, innovation and development. She also has written extensively about the growing demand for urban lifestyle living. Her work has appeared in such publications as Concentrate, Metromode, Bridge, The Content Strategist and Forbes BrandVoice. She’s currently working on an article about a recent study validating the eight assets that make up great communities.


– Placemaking can happen in a community if there are people willing to do the work. Listen to Natalie explain. (6:39)

Chuck Marohn 

Peter Kageyama

Peter Kageyama is the author if many placemaking books, including “For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair between People and Their Places” and the follow up, “Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places.” He was the very first guest when the Prosperity Agenda show launched in January 2010. Peter discusses some cities in Michigan and across the state that are doing a great job with placemaking.

– What’s the current “it” city that people may not know about? Peter doesn’t hold back and names his ‘it” city. Bet you can’t guess what he says. Listen to find out. (10:30)

Marcus Peccia 

Fred Kent

Fred Kent is a leading authority on revitalizing city spaces and one of the foremost thinkers in livability, smart growth and the future of the city. As founder and president of Project for Public Spaces, he is known throughout the world as a dynamic speaker and prolific ideas man. Traveling over 150,000 miles each year, Fred offers technical assistance to communities and gives major talks across North America and internationally. Since 1975, Fred has worked on hundreds of projects, including Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, and Times Square in New York City; Discovery Green in Houston, TX; Campus Martius in Detroit. Fred explains his “power of 10” theory to making great places.

– Fred said a community doesn’t have to bring in an expert to revitalize itself. Listen to who he believes the experts are. (9:50)

Joe Borgstrom 

Josh McManus

Josh McManus handles operations at Rock Ventures, entrepreneur Dan Gilbert’s services company working with a portfolio of over 130 companies in Detroit, Cleveland and across the country. Josh joined Rock Ventures in 2015. An innovator in entrepreneurial development, talent attraction and retention, placemaking and cultivating emerging leadership, Josh is obsessed with the future of post-industrial American cities. His has worked to improve Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Akron, and Detroit. He is a regular public speaker on topics such as informed urban action, talent attraction and retention, innovation and entrepreneurial development. Josh explains why Detroit is the place to be.

– Hear Josh explain why his boss, Dan Gilbert, is such a proponent of placemaking and creating vibrant spaces. (9:35)


May 25, 2016: Time to Fix Michigan’s System of Funding Communities

April 27, 2016: CNU 24 Congress to Put National Spotlight on Detroit and Michigan

Mar 23, 2016: Honoring Michigan’s Community Builders

Feb 24, 2016: Overcoming Obstacles to Make Placemaking Happen

Jan 27, 2016: Making the most of Michigan winters

Dec 23, 2015: Connecting Michigan Through Higher Education

Nov 25, 2015: Striving for a Welcoming & Diverse Michigan Program Explores How to Make a Better Michigan

Oct 29, 2015: A Look at Making Walkable, Pedestrian-Friendly Communities in Michigan

Sept 23, 2015: Program Aims To Make Cities More Attractive and Livable

Aug 26, 2015: Philanthropy Making a Difference in Michigan Communities

July 22, 2015: Festivals Helping Create Sense of Place in Our Communities

June 24, 2015: Michigan is Redeveloping its Way to Economic Vibrancy

May 27, 2015: Farmers Markets Helping Michigan’s Communities, Economys

April 22, 2015: Building Better Communities

March 25, 2015: A Conversation with Governor Snyder about Proposal 1 Program Explores How to Make a Better Michigan

Feb 25, 2015: What Made You Fall in Love with Your Michigan Community?

Jan 28, 2015: Attracting and Retaining Talent Vital to Michigan’s Future

Dec 29, 2014: Strong Town Strength Test

Nov 26, 2014: Crowdfunding Efforts Helping to Move Michigan Forward

Oct 22, 2014: Placemaking Stories Detailed in New League Book

Sept 24, 2014: The Economic Development Role that Arts and Culture Play in a Community

Aug 27, 2014: The Economic Development Role that Arts and Culture Play in a Community

July 23, 2014: What We Can Do to Make Michigan More Immigrant-Friendly

June 25, 2014: Placemaking and Michigan’s Aging Population

May 28, 2014: A Conversation from the National Main Streets Conference in Detroit!

April 23, 2014: Revenue Sharing and the Importance of Investing in Communities

Mar 26, 2014: Crowdfunding Movement; Making a Better Michigan

Feb 26, 2014:Placemaking is a vital part of making our state prosperous again

Jan. 22, 2014:Jobs, jobs and more jobs

Dec. 20, 2013:“PlacePlans” effort taking hold and improving communities across the state

Nov. 27, 2013:The National Media’s Perspective on What is Happening in Detroit

Oct. 23, 2013:The League’s efforts toward an urban policy agenda that moves Michigan toward prosperity

Sept. 25, 2013:Strategic lessons on placemaking from the League’s annual conference in Detroit

Aug. 21, 2013:Michigan’s Port Communities – a Vital Element in the State’s Economic Prosperity

July. 24, 2013:Michigan cities and downtown centers experiencing population growth despite challenges

June. 26, 2013:Complete Streets – Designing roadways to accommodate all users, not just motorists

May. 22, 2013:Engaging citizens is vital to creating prosperous communities

Apr. 24, 2013: Repurposing Property Through Private and Public Partnerships to Revitalize Communities

Mar. 27, 2013: Town-Gown Partnerships Between Cities and Universities Helping to Move State Forward

Feb. 27, 2013: Retiring Baby Boomers Provide Opportunity to Communities

Jan. 23, 2013: Aging in Place

Dec. 26, 2012: Placemaking in Michigan – A Year in Review

Nov. 26, 2012: What is Placemaking and What is MSHDA’s Role in It?

Oct. 24, 2012: Embracing Green Technology in Neighborhood Revitalization

Sept. 26, 2012: Entrepreneurs are Key to Economic Turnaround

August 22, 2012: The MIplace Partnership Initiative Improving Cities and Neighborhoods

July 25, 2012: Arts and Culture Important to Placemaking

June 27, 2012: Entrepreneurs Key to Thriving Michigan Communities

May 23, 2012: Attracting Talent Key to Michigan’s Future

April 25, 2012: How Do We Bring it Back to Michigan?

March 28, 2012: Vibrant Michigan Downtowns Good for Business

Feb. 18, 2012: Making Our State More Sustainable

Jan. 25, 2012: The Benefits of Federal Funding for Neighborhood Stabilization

Dec. 29, 2011: The Year in Review

Nov. 27, 2011: Transportation in the State and the Role it Plays in Michigan’s Future Economic Prosperity

Oct. 26, 2011: League’s Recently Released Book Emphasizes Quality of Place to Michigan’s Economic Prosperity

Sept. 26, 2011: How will Michigan’s foreclosure crisis impact the state’s future prosperity

August 24, 2011: League Releasing Book Emphasizing Quality of Place

July 27, 2011: What’s Happening in Detroit and Other Communities to Make Michigan Better

June 22, 2011: What’s Happening in Detroit and Other Communities to Make Michigan Better

May 25, 2011: Why Transit Matter’s to Michigan’s Future Prosperity

April 27, 2011: Why Place Matters to Michigan’s Future Prosperity

Mar. 23, 2011: Gov. Rick Snyder’s Proposed Budget and What it Means for Michigan

Feb. 23, 2011: Gov. Rick Snyder’s Proposed Budget and the Potential Impact on Michigan Cities

Jan 26, 2011: Civic Engagement and Getting People Involved in the Community

Dec 23, 2010: Why Higher Education is Among Main Pillars for Building Michigan’s Future

Nov 24, 2010: New Leadership and the Impact on Jobs, Education and Quality of Life

Oct 20, 2010: Michigan Governor Candidates Talk Cities

Sept 23, 2010: Economic Development and Entrepreneurship

Aug 25, 2010: Green Initiatives

July 28, 2010: Economic Gardening

June 23, 2010: Rightsizing Cities

May 26, 2010: Attracting and Retaining Talented Young People

Apr 28, 2010: The New Urban Neighborhood

Mar 24, 2010: Arts, Entertainment and Culture

Feb 24, 2010: Talking Transit

Jan 27, 2010: Making a Better Michigan

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