Six Steps to Creating Prosperous Places
We all have a natural nesting instinct—we know what makes a good place. And a consensus has developed among urban planners and designers about the essential components of healthy, prosperous communities. So why aren’t these ideals being put into practice?
In Good Urbanism, Nan Ellin identifies the obstacles to creating thriving environments, and presents a six-step process to overcome them: prospect, polish, propose, prototype, promote, present. She argues that we need to reach beyond conventional planning to cultivate good ideas and leverage the resources to realize them.
Ellin illustrates the process with ten exemplary projects, from Envision Utah to Open Space Seattle. Each case study shows how to pair vision with practicality, drawing on our best natural instincts and new planning tools.
For planners, urban designers, community developers, and students of these fields, Ellin’s innovative approach offers an inspired, yet concrete path to building good places.
Learning from exemplary practices and applying insights from organizational learning, psychology, the philosophy of pragmatism, grounded theory, and wisdom traditions, Nan Ellin, in her book, Good Urbanism, developed an approach for uncovering the buried instinct to enhance human habitats. This “Path toward Prosperity” consists of six steps: prospect, polish, propose, prototype, promote, and present.
Prospecting involves listening to self, others, and places. All kinds of prospecting contribute to polishing the gems. The third step is envisioning best possibilities and proposing plans, policies, and designs for crafting the polished nuggets into jewels that add economic, social, aesthetic, and environmental value to places. At this point, the proposal may be prototyped for testing and additional feedback. Then, the concept is promoted to a larger public to obtain even more input and build support. Well taken, these steps generate the resources required to implement the project along the way. Ultimately, the project is presented to trustworthy partners capable of realizing the vision on an ongoing basis, and the initial catalyst may move on to catalyze other projects.
Projects will accord varying emphases to different steps along the path. In sum, the six steps are a heuristic device to be calibrated and customized for each project.
The five bonus case studies offered here, as well as the case studies in Good Urbanism show how these steps have been applied to a variety projects. The projects included here are: