2017: USA Today: New Mural Evokes Hometown Nostalgia in Howell

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2017: Placemaking takes hold in Michigan under name Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper 

By Gil White, Michigan Realtors® Placemaking Consultant

Realtors® sell “place” for a living. It’s a central part of the job description. So we are well-situated to be a leading voice within the private sector for what we’ve come to call placemaking. Any definition of placemaking is multifaceted, but for our purposes here, it’s all about making better "people habitat" in our public spaces.

One particular approach is known as Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper. It takes a location and says, let’s use this as a laboratory and conduct some low-cost experiments, plant some seeds and see what takes hold and grows. A bottom-up approach, LQC recognizes that the experts at creating a great place are the people that inhabit the space. And unlike many planning activities, implementation actually occurs within a short timeline, often accompanied by a sense of ownership and pride. 

Read more at Bridge Magazine

Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper (LQC)

What is Placemaking and LQC?

Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Placemaking capitalizes on a local community's assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people's health, happiness, and well being.

Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper (LQC) is a DIY approach based on taking incremental steps, trying low cost experiments, and tapping into local talents (e.g. neighbors, entrepreneurs) to quickly translate a community's vision into reality and to build momentum for further improvements.

What are LQC Placemaking Projects?

LQC placemaking projects are small, inexpensive, and incremental community projects. They do not need to cost a lot of money to get off the ground. Nor do they need to take a lot of time to plan and complete. But, these smaller types of placemaking activities can often help to improve a neighborhood and make it a better place to live, work and play.

How Can LQC Placemaking Projects Help My Community?

  • Create community gathering places
  • Attract residents and visitors
  • Bring life to downtowns
  • Support walkable communities
  • Preserve open and green spaces
Where Did LQC Originate?

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) has been working to help people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities since 1975, and have completed projects in over 2,500 communities in 40 countries and all 50 US states. Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper is a concept that PPS developed and advocates for continued local placemaking development and sustainability. Michigan Realtors® offers micro grants to assist local associations and their communities in strengthening their LQC placemaking initiatives.

Apply for a Grant

Michigan Realtors® will offer LQC placemaking micro grants in 2018. Check back in early January for more information.

Grant Information Quick Facts

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Andrea Bretz - Email
Operations Project Manager
Michigan Realtors®

Tell Us About Your Event

Do you have photos or video from a recent LQC Placemaking event you attended and or organized? Send all photos and video links to us. YouTube or Vimeo links are preferred.

Get Involved! Join the Conversation on Facebook!

MI Great Places is an online community dedicated to shaping the future of placemaking in Michigan. Join the Facebook group below to connect with LQC project coordinators and get the latest updates on placemaking events near you.

  Join MI Great Places on Facebook

2017 LQC Placemaking Events

 Funded in part by MI Great Places, Inc.


Brighton Arts and Culture Commission continues to build on 2016 success. Looking at creating a stage and waterproof piano near Hyne Alley, to hold performances every Thursday. Further development of Hyne Alley and Brighton Sculpture Garden for “The Story of Us” storytelling exhibition. Besides the stage and piano there will be other space improvements as well. This project is co-sponsored by Griffith Realty and Michigan Realtors®.

Howell Main Street Inc, Howell Chamber of Commerce, City of Howell will continue their Placemaking success of 2016 mural, which kicked off a multi-phased transformation of a 3-block alley. The 2017 plan is to provide art, lighting and seating, as well as temporary event spaces and urban gardens. Kellogg Foundation has agreed to match Michigan Realtor funds to bring in artistic bike racks. This project is co-sponsored by Griffith Realty and Michigan Realtors®.

Jackson plans to adopt a vacant lot on North West Ave to create small neighborhood park – including a swingset, garden, benches, bike rack, fencing, trash cans and a playhouse that is complete and ready to be delivered once fencing in installed. Lowe's has contributed $100 of decorative fencing required by the city. Spring Arbor, Midas and Jackson Pak & Ship have all committed to contributions. This project is co-sponsored by JAAR.

Lewiston is planning to install removeable Gabions (moveable tree boxes) with trees and plants at the open center of the street downtown that will be re-installed each spring. This project is co-sponsored by Huston Real Estate Inc. Huston’s gabion will have a plaque in memory of  Mark Huston. 

The Saginaw Board of Realtors® have committed to support the SVRC Farmers Market project – they are redeveloping the former Saginaw News building into a 10,000 square-foot mixed-use facility. Outdoor space is scheduled to open in August 2017. The Michigan Realtors® grant award will be used directly for tables, benches, planters, outdoor signage and vendor tables.  

South Haven 
South Haven hopes to improve Tot Lot, a parking area that is underutilized in a residential area. The City has been making improvements to the park and Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors is looking at contributing $10,000 in additional improvements. This grant will go toward regarding the surface for drainage, installing geotextile, plastic edging and mulch. 

Growing Hope is a new multi-use space at the Ypsilanti Farmers Market. They will create community gathering space beyond market day, including lighting, outdoor games, seating, patio heaters, picnic tables. There are many community partners involved in this redevelopment. This project is co-sponsored by Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Michigan Realtors®.

2016 Highlights


Brighton will renovate an alley with a large chalkboard, oversized checkboard and chess, flowers, seating and lighting for the alley. They will be creating and using 4 painted chairs to auction at the end of the summer to help fund additional purchases next year. Carol Griffith and Michigan Realtors® are co-sponsors. 

News: Local Artwork Being Displayed This Summer on Hyne Alley in Brighton

Eastern Market is creating a mobile placemaking unit to create social interaction and compel more visitors to their area. The placemaking unit includes 120 chairs, oversized umbrellas, temporary lighting, a pressure washer and traffic barriers, all contained within a box truck. Michigan Realtors® is a co-sponsor. 
Porch Fest will be held August 27, 2016, in the Mott Park neighborhood. This will include 13 porches playing music, one large concert, games, food trucks, artists and creative opportunities for children. Friday Nights at University Square, a successful 2015 LQC initiative also continues and is fully funded. East Central Association of Realtors® and Michigan Realtors® are co-sponsors. The project involves leaders from Habitat for Humanity, The University of Michigan, Flint Public Art Project, Kettering University and Juneteenth Fest.
On May 21, 2016, GMAR volunteers cleaned Realtor® Park in Royal Oak. Upcoming plans for the park include new playground equipment and a re-opening day involving the local Boys and Girls Club. GMAR received grants from the National Association of Realtors® and Michigan Realtors®. 

News: Realtors® Revitalize Park in Royal Oak
Activate Jackson is soliciting volunteers for assembling Adirondack chairs on May 28, 2016, in coordination with Jackson Homebuilders and Jackson Makerspace. These chairs will later be painted by local artists and find their home at the downtown farmers market. Jackson Area Association of Realtors® and Michigan Realtors® are co-sponsors. 

News: Group's $7,000 budget aims to generate activity at Jackson farmers market, park


A successful kick-off “Music Hop” featuring local bands occurred on April 22. Another Music Hop was held on May 20. RE/MAX Advantage, Michigan Real Estate Services and Michigan Realtors® are co-sponsors.  

Additional Information

On September 16th there will be a Park(ing) Day where 10 parking spaces will be used to create "adult recess" hot spots throughout the downtown. A taste of what's to come; coffee and giant chess, Lego's and Jenga, coloring pages and Yoga stretches. 
Manchester held a kick-off canoe race, in conjunction with additional festivities, with 80 boats participating despite bad weather. The middle school Builder’s Club is making corn hole games for the river front park. Letters are being distributed to local businesses, officials and volunteers groups to start the Make It Manchester program, in order to bring different players in the community together to create additional LQC events. They also created a promotional video.  Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors®, Michigan Realtors® are co-sponsors. They were also award grant funding from Washtenaw County.

News: “Make-It-Manchester Thursdays” schedule announced – THIS Thursday: Business Expo @ the Farmers Market

Marquette will be looking to utilize street performers in the month of June, as well as Creative Art Spots featuring sidewalk seating, plantings and art. They will re-use, and improve, the parklets from last year. Upper Peninsula Association of Realtors®, Michigan Realtors® and the Arts & Culture Commission are co-sponsors.