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How Do You Placemake in a Virtual World?

What it means to gather in 2020, and beyond

Child looking at a laptop smiling

Published on December 15, 2020

This year has tested our collective understanding of placemaking. 

As lockdowns and social distancing measures kept us at home and away from public spaces, we had to rethink what it meant to create a sense of place, virtually. 

From the classroom to the stage, Evergreen spent the year re-envisioning its programming to form unique, online gathering places in 2020.  

Virtually Outdoors 

Evergreen has a long history of connecting students with their natural environment. 

When the pandemic shut down schools across the country, we knew we had to do something to help parents and educators during a difficult time. 

We developed the Virtually Outdoors school program, adapting our field-tested activities and education methodologies for an online learning experience that focused on interaction with the natural world. 

Close to 200 students participated in a unique and immersive virtual programming, available anywhere in the country with an internet connection, which continued the work of connecting our youth to nature. 

It was a demonstration of what is possible outside of the traditional, physical classroom. Educational placemaking can reach students and educators online, if it’s approached in a thoughtful and methodical way.  

We also knew that there was a need for outdoor educational resources. Our Outdoor Classroom newsletter shared resources and field-tested tips for bringing learning outside to over 5,800 families and educators this year. 

Online Collision 

While we couldn’t gather in person this year, we still facilitated conversations around city-building and smart cities across the country. 

The Community Solutions Network’s Virtual Collision Days brought together tech start-ups and community organizations, providing the start-ups with feedback on their product development and giving community leaders a chance to preview emerging technologies that could serve their residents. 

Each regionally-focused event created valuable connections between communities and tech companies, who could work together to develop smart solutions to local challenges.  

Participants discussed everything from security, data, procurement and public engagement. The series made essential connections possible in a time when gathering is extremely challenging.  

Stages, Wherever You Are 

Evergreen’s Cultural Performing Arts Series was always going to feature free music and dance performances. 

Each was designed to celebrate the resilience of the human spirit, inspire creativity, and deepen connections between our communities. 

That connection was deeply needed in 2020. While the performances were designed for, and filmed at, the Evergreen Brick Works, each was documented through video and available to watch on demand, free, anywhere in the world. 

Each film was directed by acclaimed Canadian director Ben Shirinian and produced in partnership with Jared Cook of Lookout. Each unfolds in expansive spaces that subvert the state of confinement we’ve all found ourselves in throughout 2020. 

The series included performances from The National Ballet of Canada, the Mexicans Folk Ballet and Vivek Shraya. 

It is a testament to creating unique, site-specific art that can be enjoyed by people all around the world. 


Support Our Impact

The work of virtual placemaking will continue well beyond 2020. From our classrooms to our offices, in our personal and professional lives, we will need to find ways to gather and communication in an online world.  

Next year, we’ll be continuing our work to build more connected, sustainable and inclusive cities, and we’re asking for your help. Donate today to help us do this important work.