What I mean when I talk about “Place”

I spent 10 years in the trenches of downtown revitalization — applying the four-point approach of the Main Street program. When I later opened my San Francisco-based consulting firm (Circa: Historic Property Development) in 1999, I continued to work with historic neighborhoods, commercial property owners, and community organizations for the next 15 years, but it was only a few years ago that I understood what my work meant — I was helping people understand “Place”.

So what am I talking about when I talk about place?

For me, place is the location where people, history, innovation and creativity meet. The more those characteristics remain intact, the clearer the thumbprint. The clearer the thumbprint, the greater understanding of an authentic story, or context. Layers of true and interwoven stories pique our curiosity, and keeps us coming back for more. This is a powerful element for any community, and is vital for retaining and recruiting businesses, residents and local investments.

When communities are homogenous, we have no tangible idea who once lived here or who lives here now. When representative buildings are demolished and historically open lands are built upon, the story of that community is erased. Forever.

It’s not that we can or should preserve every property, but thoughtful, well-informed consideration of a single property or a neighborhood as a whole, directs better choices to prepare for the next story.

All our stories.

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