Placemakers

All communities face certain challenges. But some people see challenges as opportunities. On Placemakers, we bring you stories about the spaces we inhabit and the people who shape them. Join us as we criss-cross the country, introducing you to real people in real communities — people who make a difference in how we travel, work, and live. You’ll never look at your community the same way again.

00:33:18 2016-12-05
Imagine a place where you can stroll down the sidewalk, wave to your neighbors on their porch, then pick up your dry cleaning or have lunch at the café. That’s the kind of walkable, compact, mixed-use community envisioned by the founders of New Urbanis...
00:19:07 2016-12-05
Seattle’s Yesler Terrace was the first racially integrated housing project in the U.S. Today, it remains a multicultural nexus for the city. The Seattle Housing Authority and its partners at JPMorgan Chase have been hard at work rebuilding and rejuvenat...
00:34:14 2016-11-28
George Leonidas Leslie was perhaps the most sensational—and successful!—criminal in American history. An architect by training, he planned and pulled off a series of record-breaking bank robberies throughout the late 1800s and arguably ushered in the ...
00:31:30 2016-11-21
Long before the Black Lives Matter movement swept the U.S., Dallas’ police chief tried to diffuse the anger and mistrust between minority communities and police. His reforms made an impact. The number of people killed in confrontations with police fell,...
00:29:28 2016-11-14
How does a small group of people change politics? The Free State Project wants libertarians to concentrate themselves in New Hampshire and promote libertarian causes. Thousands have already moved, and thousands more are on the way. But not everyone is hap...
00:28:44 2016-11-07
How do you solve a problem like the suburbs? For one man in Arizona, it means creating an agricultural utopia, replete with picket fences and a community garden. He was inspired by one of our era's  most scathing critics of suburban sprawl: James Howard ...
00:31:10 2016-10-31
Three stories from St. Louis highlight different ways to combat urban blight, from fighting urban decay on MLK Jr. Drive, to turning vacant lots into lush corner gardens. Whether it’s one street, one garden or one tree, it gets easier to imagine change ...
00:19:22 2016-10-31
In the 1950s and ‘60s, Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard was a thriving commercial district beloved by New Orleans’ African-American community. After decades of disinvestment, the boulevard has turned a corner and is starting to blossom, once again, into ...
00:35:06 2016-10-24
Washington, D.C., may be the political center of the free world, but its 670,000 residents don’t have a say in the national legislature. What they do have is a “non-voting delegate” in the House of Representatives. Eleanor Holmes Norton can introduc...
00:25:37 2016-10-17
Philadelphia has made a mission of making bike share attractive to low- income and minority residents, trying to buck the national trend of bike-share users being white, rich, educated, and male. The city has moved bike stations into nonwhite neighb...
00:25:12 2016-10-10
When Bennie Lee was only 13 years old he became a leader of the Apache Vice Lords, an African-American street gang on Chicago’s west side. In and out of prison for years, Lee eventually landed on death row in the aftermath of a deadly riot at the Pontia...
00:28:22 2016-10-03
After punk singer Steven DeCaprio learned how to legally acquire tax- defaulted property in Oakland, California, by squatting, he decided to grow a movement of political “squatter-activists” to take over the land. The group, known as Land Action, seek...
00:30:06 2016-09-26
A decade ago, a tornado wiped out the small town of Greensburg. But the town decided to rebuild -- as a totally green community. Ten years out, has green rebuilding program been successful, and is this a model that might be used by other towns? Or is goin...
00:25:24 2016-09-19
Mary Poole has been a nurse, an arborist, a jewelry-maker, and a mom. But she’s never been a politician or an activist. At least not until one heartbreaking photo from halfway around the world changed everything for her. Now she’s on a mission to make...
00:21:07 2016-09-12
Over the last 40-plus years, Detroit has seen its economy falter and its population dwindle, leaving thousands of homes empty and starting a downward spiral of neighborhood decay. In this episode, join host Brian Babylon as he digs into how Loveland Techn...
00:27:56 2016-09-05
Chattanooga, Tennessee, has a lightning-fast, publicly-run broadband network that has attracted a lot of tech talent to the city. But as the city builds an economy around technology, one thing is becoming apparent: There’s a gaping divide between those ...
00:30:36 2016-08-29
Spirit on Lake looks a lot like any other apartment complex built over the past few years. But something very specific sets it apart from nearly every other apartment building in the nation: It’s an affordable-housing development aimed at gay, lesbian, ...
00:31:02 2016-08-22
Majora Carter embraces the idea of “self-gentrification” in her native South Bronx. She founded a park in a spot slated to become a waste-transfer facility. She hires local gamers to test software and provide customer service for major tech outfits. A...
00:29:06 2016-08-15
It’s no secret that climbing rents are driving many creative entrepreneurs out of popular urban centers. When Seattle book publisher Ed Marquand stumbled across a dearth of cheap real estate in a struggling small town not far from the big city, he thoug...
00:29:32 2016-08-08
Atlanta wanted an end to its public housing projects-- no more pockets of poverty, crime, and despair. In the 1990s, the city started tearing the projects down, replacing them with mixed-income neighborhoods. The shining success story of this effort? East...
00:35:24 2016-08-01
To understand the stories we'll tell on Placemakers, you must understand the ultimate placemaker: Jane Jacobs. She lacked formal training in city planning but became an urban visionary who promoted dense, mixed-use neighborhoods where people interacted on...
00:04:20 2016-07-20
Starting August 1, host Rebecca Sheir introduces you to people facing challenges and trying to make a difference in 18 different communities across America.  .