Advancing Places: Social Inclusion in Public Spaces

Overview: Many communities have struggled with building public places that are welcoming and open to all. In the aftermath of COVID, as downtowns grapple with the uncertainty of office work, the challenge of bringing users back to our public spaces is compounded by the needs of underserved groups. As workers retreated to their neighborhoods, people experiencing homelessness, addiction, and mental illness became more visible and sometimes the dominant users of public space. The traditional approaches of seeking ways to dislocate people in need or “dilute” their presence continue to fail, particularly in the absence of other public space users. In some communities, while visitors and shoppers have returned, homelessness and need are at the forefront of public debate. Municipalities continue to spend millions on outreach and services for vulnerable populations that are not producing the desired results. What if we can make use of public space as the nexus where people in need and the programs that are meant to serve them come together?

This panel offers an unusual mix of discipline diversity, including an urban planner working in public space, a professional managing a premier public space and tourist destination, a social practice social worker, and a person with lived experience of homelessness and mental illness. Together we will provide a range of perspectives from academic to professional practice to daily life. Our panel content directly addresses issues of inclusion and representation in public space, and will offer evidence and lessons learned from creating a pocket social environment in Times Square, aimed explicitly at connecting with people in need of social inclusion and help.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Recognize and articulate the pressures on public spaces to address social inclusion needs in their communities.
  • Articulate the value of social inclusion and public space as a nexus for connection to downtown stakeholders.
  • Understand social practice as a successful approach to building trust and connecting with underserved groups.
  • Use case studies and information provided to begin thinking of possibilities for their communities and areas of potential change in their downtown public spaces.

Friday, October 28, 2022 | 12:00pm ET (9:00am PT) 

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Domain: Public Space Management and Operations

Pricing: IDA Members: Free | Nonmembers: $40

Advancing Places is an online series aimed at empowering IDA members with the solutions needed to address the most critical urban issues of the day. This session will include a moderated Q&A and will be recorded for member and nonmember use in the future.


  • Elena Madison, Director of Projects, Project for Public Spaces (NY)
  • Tom Harris, President and CEO, Times Square Alliance (New York, NY)
  • Ian Campbell, Fountain House (New York, NY)


  • Carolyn Dellutri, Director of Professional Development, IDA

LPM | 1 IDA LPM professionals can earn credit hours for this webinar. More information about IDA’s Leadership in Place Management certification program can be found here.

CM | 1 AICP members can earn Certification Maintenance (CM) credits for this webinar. More information about AICP’s CM program can be found at

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Registration information: When registering for a webinar, please complete the sign-up as yourself and not your organization. If additional staff would like to attend the same webinar, each individual must register as themselves to receive their unique login link. Questions? Email


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