Dear Sacramento, please don’t ever use the word ‘placemaking’ again

Sacramento's buzzword of the moment, the latest elbow-rubbing lube at cool metro gatherings, is “placemaking.” This highfalutin jargon deals with the effort to revitalize “neglected” urban space by injecting it with creative and innovative public-private projects. It's about urban renewal, and that's a good thing.

The problem is that the locals waving this placemaking flag are on team “Sacramento as the next great American city.” Many of these preachers just arrived in town. They've got clear eyes and full hearts—but they're gonna lose.

They're gonna lose because, when they pontificate, they sound entitled, as if they know what's best for the city, as if Sacramento hasn't been “placemaking” for decades. As if we're not already great.

Modern urban revival shouldn't only matter when its embraced by politicians, developers and Chamber of Commerce types. Placemaking shouldn't only be when the business community figures out how to commodify youth culture. And Sacramento doesn't need a rebirth or “renaissance.” We're fine.

I'm not here to rebel against an Ivy League deconstruction of the city's urban milieu. And I get that old school Sacramentans aren't the most welcoming bunch. But neo-locals waxing on about this city's “live, work, play” credentials often are more than just a little dismissive of the people who've made Sacramento exciting and vibrant for decades. It's insulting to those talented thinkers and artists, engineers and musicians who've put the city on their shoulders.

And it's just not very Sac.