Thursday, September 26, 2013

NCCP executive director joins The Ohio State University City and Regional Planning program

NCCP Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez has joined the City and Regional Planning section at The Ohio State University’s Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture as a Lecturer.

Leo is teaching two classes and is directing the section’s new Certification in Creative Placemaking program. He is teaching Arts and Entertainment Planning in the fall semester, and Planning Ethics in the spring semester.  Both courses and the Certification program are online.

Leo brings to OSU more than a decade of experience teaching continuing education, graduate and undergraduate classes at The New School and Rutgers University.

He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in community development, economic development,  leadership, managerial communications, planning history, planning practice and planning theory.  

In addition to his programs in creative placemaking, he has developed programs in coaching, leadership and planning for arts administrators, behavioral health professionals, municipal clerks, public affairs professionals, and urban planners.

Since 2006, Leo has developed nearly 70 continuing education courses and programs in various planning topics, including environmental planning, GIS, and urban design.

Leo has designed and is teaching a leadership and planning program for behavioral health professionals on behalf of the Rutgers University School of Social Work.

New creative placemaking certification program has successful start; to be offered again next year

The new Certification in Creative Placemaking  program at The Ohio State University welcomed 21 students in its inaugural year.  Thirteen are continuing education students from throughout the United States, while another nine are OSU graduate students, who are pursuing graduate credit in the program.

The diverse (and highly engaged) group includes public policy and arts professionals from Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Dozens more expressed interest in the program.

The response was so positive that the City and Regional Planning section of the Knowlton School of Architecture will be offering the program again next year.  The program will be held from August 2014 through May 2015, and will continue to be online.

Registration is now closed for this year’s program, but we expect to open registration for the 2014 Certification in Creative Placemaking by spring.

They are learning from one another and from leaders in the creative placemaking field, including Tom Borrup, author of The Creative Community Builder’s Handbook; David Pankratz, Research Director for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council; Wendy Benscoter, Manager, Shreveport Common; Leland Edgecombe, Principal of the architecture/urban design firm The Edgecombe Group; and Juana Guzman, Principal of the cultural tourism consulting firm I Juana Know.

The program is co-sponsored and designed by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Louisiana Creative Communities Initiative highlighted by NASAA

By Leonardo Vazquez

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies has highlighted the Louisiana Creative Communities Initiative in its July newsletter.

LCCI is an innovative approach to creative placemaking.  The program, designed and directed by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, provides coaches to 10 communities that want to enhance their communities and local economies through arts and culture.  The coaches are all Louisiana residents -- many of them from the arts and public affairs communities -- who were trained by NCCP.

LCCI is produced by the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development.

NCCP supporting public health through training in community planning

Protecting public health is one of the driving forces of urban planning.  The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking is pursuing this goal in a distinct way.  We are teaching community planning skills to New Jersey officials working on substance abuse and behavioral health issues in their counties.

On behalf of the Rutgers University School of Social Work, with support from the New Jersey State Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, NCCP is producing the Community Based Planning Certificate.  This program offers 30 directors and coordinators training and development in:

*Data collection and use,
*Community engagement,
*Cost-effective evaluation, and
*Presenting plans to the public

The participants are required to create long-range county comprehensive plans for alcohol and substance abuse prevention in 2014.  This program is also an opportunity for the participants to learn leadership skills, so they can be better persuade fellow county officials and the public to promote public health.

NCCP gets continuing support from Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and New Jersey State Council on the Arts

By Leonardo Vazquez 

The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking has received $20,000 in grants from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.  This is a great show of support for our work in creative placemaking.

"We have been impressed by Leo Vazquez's determination to build a national reputation for the organization, while simultaneously developing model demonstration projects in New Jersey," Dodge Foundation President & CEO Chris Daggett said in the award letter.

The support of the Dodge Foundation and the State Council on the Arts will be used to help make New Jersey both a laboratory and model for high-quality creative placemaking in the United States.

Over the next few months, we will be working on developing conferences and other events to build the creative placemaking community, conducting more research on creative placemaking activities in New Jersey, and providing thought leadership to promote better policies.

For more information on The National Consorti

East Orange Planning Board to hear plan to revitalize city through its parks and open spaces

By Leonardo Vazquez

A plan to revitalize East Orange NJ through its parks and open spaces will be presented to the City’s planning board on August 7.  The plan includes public art strategies to promote safety and navigation, as well as East Orange’s diverse cultural heritage.
Proposal for deck park between City Hall and Public Library

The Park Master Plan is East Orange’s most comprehensive effort to date in using parks to promote community and local economic development.  Some of the key ideas in the plan include:

  • Creating a ‘deck park’ over what is now part of Interstate 280 between City Hall and the main branch of the East Orange Public Library.  More than a new open space, the deck park would help reconnect parts of the city that were scarred by the construction of the highway in the 1960s.  The deck park would also include an outdoor performance space.
  • Physical improvements and upgrades to all the parks in the city.
  • Creating ‘friends of the parks’ groups, which would be government-community partnerships to help maintain improvements to the parks.  These friends groups may also become the foundation for new civic leadership in the City.
  • Development of greenways and ‘artways’ (streets with a larger share of public art) to promote safer walking and bicycling between open spaces.
  • The use of public art in parks that helps promote East Orange’s recent history and current culture.

The plan was created by a team led by Philadelphia landscape architects Wells Appel  and that includes Nishuane Group.  Leonardo Vazquez, the Executive Director of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, is also a Senior Associate with the Montclair, NJ-based Nishuane Group
and led public outreach for the plan.  He also developed several of the creative placemaking strategies in the plan. 
City residents prioritizing issues at one of several public engagement sessions

The East Orange Planning Board meets 7 pm August 7, at East Orange City Hall, 44 City Hall Plaza.

You can learn more about the project at the East Orange Parks Plan Facebook page

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Announcing instructors for Creative Placemaking Certification program

By Leonardo Vazquez

The Certification in Creative Placemaking program at Ohio State University will be taught by some of the most experienced and skilled practitioners in the field of creative placemaking in the United States.  Together, they bring a wealth of skills and knowledge from many fields, including community organizing, public relations, marketing, public administration, architecture, urban design, arts administration and tourism development.

Tom Borrup
Tom Borrup, who it could be said literally wrote the book on creative placemaking, will be teaching the first two courses -- Building Creative Communities and Sustainable Creative Economies.  Tom is a nationally-known consultant in this field, and the author of The Creative Community Builder's Handbook: How to Transform Communities Using Local Assets, Art and Culture.  This book is also one of the key texts for the program.  Tom has been teaching college-level courses in creative placemaking for several years.  Most recently, he was one of the lead instructors in a precursor to the Certification in Creative Placemaking program.

Tom will be joined by Wendy Benscoter, Lee Edgecombe and Juana Guzman.

Wendy Benscoter
Wendy Benscoter will be teaching Building Capacity for Creative Placemaking.  She is the Project Manager for Shreveport Common, a successful creative placemaking initiative in Louisiana; and Community Liaison for the Louisiana Creative Communities Initiative.  She is a former adjunct professor, teaching Communications at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, and has recently completed a Certificate Program for Creative Placemaking from Rutgers University.  Her course will focus on how to help communities plan and implement creative placemaking efforts, and be effective stewards of community improvement.

Lee Edgecombe
Leland (Lee) Edgecombe, a successful architect and urban planner, will be teaching Making Spaces for Culture, a course that helps students learn how to select good locations for creative and cultural activities. Lee is Principal of The Edgecombe Group, which specializes in making communities and neighborhoods stronger through architecture, urban planning and crime-preventing urban design. Like Tom, he taught in the precursor to the Certification program.

It's easy to promote tourism in places with a nice beach or a vibrant main street. Juana Guzman's expertise is in making the other kind of places into tourism destinations -- in ways that support local communities. As Chicago's cultural affairs
Juana Guzman
commissioner, and later as Vice President of the National Museum of Mexican Art, Juana helped use tourism to promote economic and community development in a working-class Chicago neighborhood. She does similar work around the country as Principal of I Juana Know.

The Certification Program starts August 26, and there are still some seats available.  Learn more or register for the program.  Questions?  Comments?  Please contact the Program Director, Leonardo Vazquez by email or at 973-763-6352.

The program is a partnership between the City and Regional Planning department of The Ohio State University's Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture and The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Registration is now open for Certification in Creative Placemaking program

By Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP

You can now register for Certification in Creative Placemaking program offered by the City and Regional Planning Division of The Ohio State University's Knowlton School of Architecture.

Payment can be made by credit card or check.  We will also accept institutional purchase orders as a guarantee of payment.

The Certification is the only program in the United States to provide practical and graduate-level learning in the emerging field of creative placemaking.  Successful participants will learn:

  •  how to succeed in community and economic development through arts and culture
  • tools and methods for conducting smart, cost-effective analysis for decision-making
  • how to build the capacity of communities and local leaders to sustain creative placemaking
  • site planning, to help them determine the best places for arts and cultural activities to occur
  • how different types of communities succeed in marketing themselves
  • entrepreneurial leadership skills, so they can convince and persuade decision-makers
Participants who successfully complete the program, which runs from August 26, 2013 to June 2014 will receive a Certification in Creative Placemaking.  Participants can also receive graduate credit for the program.  (There is a separate registration to pursue graduate credits; graduate fees for all seven credits include continuing education tuition)

If you have any questions, please contact the program director, Leonardo Vazquez by email or at 973-763-6352.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sustainable Jersey team uses innovative strategy to promote creative placemaking in New Jersey

By Leonardo Vazquez, with Donna Drewes and Karen Pinzolo

People like to be recognized for their hard work.  That's why Sustainable Jersey is successful in getting municipalities to do more to protect their environments, enhance economic opportunity and improve quality of life in their communities.  Nearly 68% of New Jersey's 565 municipalities are pursuing or have received  Sustainable Jersey certification.

Riding that wave, Sustainable Jersey's Arts and Creativity Taskforce created three actions that together can help a municipality get 20% of the points it needs for certification.  This, in turn, will help creative placemaking become integrated into a community's planning and policies.

These actions are: developing a "Creative Team," a group of cross-sector leaders who envision arts development as a way to address community challenges; conducting an inventory of creative assets, and preparing a Creative Placemaking Plan that is adopted as part of the municipality'sMaster Plan.  The first two actions are currently available on the Sustainable Jersey website, and we anticipate that the Creative Placemaking Plan action will be incorporated into the program in June, 2013.

Watch Arts Day Offers Solutions and Celebration on PBS. See more from NJToday.

The actions were announced this month before 150 or so arts professionals at ArtPride New Jersey's annual Arts Day program. It was inspiring to hear stories from leaders from Woodbridge, Monmouth County, Orange and Creative New Jersey where actions similar to those in the Sustainable Jersey program are already underway. The event was covered by The Star-Ledger -- the state's largest newspaper and NJTV.

A municipality can received a Bronze-level certification by completing 10-12 actions that together generate at least 150 points.  Three hundred eight four of the state’s 565 municipalities have made a commitment to pursuing sustainability by registering with the program and 113 are currently certified.   

The Task Force is chaired by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking's Executive Director, Leonardo Vazquez, and includes representatives from public sector and arts organizations, including:  Karen Pinzolo of ArtPride New Jersey; Suzanne Ishee of Center for Creative Placemaking;  Elizabeth Murphy of Creative New Jersey; Wendy Liscow of Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Kadie Dempsey and Barbara Reuther of Morris Arts; Kristen Wegner of New Jersey Arts Education Partnership and Larry McCullough, formerly of Woodbridge Township.   They all worked on the actions, along with Morris Bellamy, a former board of member of Arts Build Communities.  

The team is managed and coached by Donna Drewes and Winnie Fatton of Sustainable Jersey.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Website for Certification in Creative Placemaking program at OSU now live

By Leonardo Vazquez

You can learn more about Ohio State University's unique Certification in Creative Placemaking.

The Certification program is a fully online program that helps participants learn and practice creative placemaking at a deep and comprehensive level.  Students combine courses in the theory and practice of this fast-growing field with sessions in entrepreneurial leadership, and work on a creative placemaking project in a community of their choice. It is the first program of its kind to be offered for graduate credit.

The program runs from August 2013 to June 2014.  Registration will open by June 1. It is offered by the City and Regional Planning Section of  OSU's Knowlton School of Architecture.

To learn more about the program, please visit

If you have any questions, please email the program director, Leonardo Vazquez  at or call him at 973-763-6352.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Seeking input: Inventory of opportunity areas for arts and cultural investment in North Jersey and Jersey Shore

By Leonardo Vazquez

PlanSmart NJ and The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking are developing an inventory of 'opportunity areas' for arts and cultural investment in North Jersey and the Jersey Shore. Opportunity areas are underutilized buildings or lots of at least 30,000 square feet in communities that demonstrate support for creative placemaking. 
This is to inform a regional sustainability plan for Together North Jersey.  But as importantly, we hope that it will help guide new investment that can enhance community and economic development in the 13-county region.  This region includes the following counties:  Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.

If you are a property owner, broker, or have special knowledge of any opportunity areas in the Together North Jersey region, we would appreciate your taking a few minutes to complete the survey:

For more information, please contact Leonardo Vazquez by email or 973-763-6352

Friday, April 19, 2013

Louisiana adopts community coaching to promote creative placemaking

By the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Louisiana and Leonardo Vazquez
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne is announcing the Louisiana Creative Communities Initiative, a program created to assist communities in reaching cultural and economic development goals. Civic leaders in the ten selected communities have been paired with an experienced coach to participate in a six-month training and planning process, after which the communities are eligible to receive a small grant to help implement their plans.
The 10 communities’ proposed projects include creating arts markets, transforming bus stops into public art and creating local arts organizations.  Each community is working with at least one coach for six months through a program called community coaching.  The coaches were trained by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, which also created the community coaching program.

“The arts and culture contribute significantly to our communities, our citizens and our cultural economy. We are pleased to support this new concept of community coaching to enhance the economies and create jobs in several communities throughout the state,” Lt. Governor Dardenne said.

The program is designed to assist communities in developing strategy to promote cultural tourism, taking advantage of the growing creative economy and becoming more welcoming to the arts.

The 10 communities selected are as follows:
·         Mid City Baton Rouge
·         Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana
·         Minden
·         Mandeville
·         Washington
·         Houma Downtown Cultural District
·         Corridor des Arts (Sunset, Grand Coteau and Arnaudville)
·         Monroe Riverside Cultural District
·         Monroe Chamber of Commerce
·         Plaquemine

The Louisiana Creative Communities Initiative is made possible through a partnership between the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development and the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation. For more information on the Creative Communities Initiative, visit

For more information on community coaching, please contact Leonardo Vazquez, Executive Director, The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, at or 973-763-6352

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ohio State University and NCCP team up to offer nation's first graduate certification program in creative placemaking

By Leonardo Vazquez

Ohio State University’s city and regional planning program will be offering a certification in creative placemaking this summer.  The certification, which will be offered online, is designed and directed by Leonardo Vazquez, a leader in creative placemaking and continuing education for placemaking professionals.

The Certification in Creative Placemaking is the first program of its kind in the United States to offer graduate credit.  It combines six graduate modules segments that students can participate in at their convenience with 10 videoconference sessions focused on entrepreneurial leadership.  Each participant can also work on a real creative placemaking project during the program, and have a valuable product to share with decisionmakers in their community.

Instructors will include some of the top experts and practitioners in the emerging field of creative placemaking.  The initiative director, Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP, is a national award-winning urban planner who founded Arts Build Communities at Rutgers University and is now the Executive Director of The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking.  It is a new offering by the City and Regional Planning Section of the Knowlton School of Architecture, which has been a pioneer and leader in online education for planning professionals.

The program runs from August 2013 to May 2014.  Those who complete the full program will get a Certification in Creative Placemaking from OSU’s City and Regional Planning Section.    

You can take the program for credit or noncredit.  Noncredit tuition -- which allows you to earn the certification but not graduate credit -- is $3,000 for the entire certification, and there is no requirement to travel to Columbus for the program.  Degree-seeking students can take this program as a set of two three-credit courses.  Learn more about fees if taking the program for graduate credit.

Most of the reading materials will be provided free in the classroom. There will be a graduation ceremony in Columbus in June 2014.  

The six “deep learning” modules cover such topics as community development, economic development, analysis for creative placemaking, building the capacity of community residents to lead creative placemaking, site planning and cultural tourism.

The program is open to anyone, but is designed for artists, arts administrators and other cultural professionals, architects, landscape architects, public administration professionals, urban planners or anyone working in community and economic development. Undergraduate OSU students must get special permission from the program director to take any 3-modules  for credit.

The program website will be open soon. Registration will begin by June 1.  For more information, please contact Leonardo Vazquez at or 973-763-6352

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dear colleague,

Leonardo Vazquez
In late 2012, Rutgers University effectively shut down the Arts Build Communities initiative by eliminating all the staff positions associated with it (including my own.)

We were doing important and fruitful work, so we've decided to continue it through The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking.

We are continuing to:

  •  help community and civic leaders build their capacity to do better creative placemaking;
  • provide practical research to help leaders, community stakeholders and their advisors make more informed decisions about community and economic development through the arts;
  • offer thought leadership -- from the op-ed page to the podium on the stage to the strategic conversation -- to promote better creative placemaking.
There is a lot going on.  We're working on a creative placemaking plan in Long Beach Island, NJ. We are training community coaches to work throughout the state of Louisiana.  And we are promoting creative placemaking in New Jersey through the influential tool of Sustainable Jersey certification.

As we continue with our work, and bring partners into the consortium, we'll use this temporary site and our newsletter to let you know.  If you'd like to subscribe to our newsletter, please click here.

Thanks, and I look forward to continuing our work together.

Leonardo Vazquez, AICP/PP
Executive Director
The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking