Suggest a Great Place in America

2018 Great Places Call for suggestions closed

A Great Place in your community demonstrates the importance of planning, provides an opportunity for promotion and tourism, and illustrates how local policies and projects strengthen our communities. Do you have a neighborhood, street, or public space worth celebrating?

Before you fill out the official suggestion form, watch our quick how-to video to get started:

Make a Suggestion

Suggesting a Great Place is simple. First, check to see if the location you’re nominating is already a Great Place. Next, get to know what characteristics make a place stand out.

Great Neighborhoods, Great Streets, and Great Public Spaces come in many forms, but they all have characteristics that are grounded in good planning practices. Review the characteristics below to see which are part of your place’s story.

What Makes a Great Neighborhood?

Livable Built Environment

Great Neighborhoods show how all elements of the built environment — including land use, transportation, housing, energy, and infrastructure — work together to provide a high quality of life through sustainable, green places for living, working, and recreation. Does the neighborhood:

  • Include accessible, multi-modal transportation options?
  • Have mixed land-use patterns that are walkable and bikeable?
  • Make smart design choices to encourage density, reduce energy use, and increase resiliency?
  • Conserve and reuse historic resources that capture the character and sense of place of the community?

Harmony with Nature

Great Neighborhoods ensure that the contributions of natural resources to human well-being are explicitly recognized and valued, and that maintaining their health is a primary objective. Does the neighborhood:

  • Respond to the natural habitats and topography in which it exists?
  • Support environmentally friendly practices?  
  • Maintain green infrastructure?
  • Reduce solid waste through recycling and/or composting?
  • Protect natural water resources and encourage water conservation?

Resilient Economy

Great Neighborhoods are built to weather both positive and negative economic circumstances through sustainable urban development and redevelopment strategies that foster green business growth and build reliance on local assets. Does the neighborhood:

  • Provide room for businesses to grow and thrive?
  • Have a healthy mix of public space, residential buildings, and commercial land uses, supported by adequate infrastructure?
  • Contain a thriving mix of businesses serving local needs in a way that is compatible with the character of the community?

Interwoven Equity

Great Neighborhoods ensure fairness and equity in providing for the housing, services, health, safety, culture, and livelihood needs of all citizens and groups. Does the neighborhood:

  • Provide a range of housing types?
  • Have housing to support working class residents of the neighborhood?
  • Protect residents from environmental and health hazards?
  • Provide equitable access to health care providers, schools, public safety services, and arts and cultural facilities?

Healthy Community

Great Neighborhoods recognize and address public health needs by providing for healthy foods, physical activity, access to recreation, health care, environmental justice, and safety. Does the neighborhood:

  • Protect residents and businesses from exposure to toxins and pollutants in the natural and built environments?
  • Promote security from crime, and is it perceived as safe for children and other users? (i.e., traffic calming, street lighting, bicycle, police, etc.)
  • Illustrate a productive redevelopment of a former brownfield site?
  • Provide activities and facilities that support everyday health, including: accessible parks, outdoor fitness equipment, bike lanes, trails, greenways, and open space?
  • Provide residents with access to healthy, fresh foods?  

Responsible Regionalism

Great Neighborhoods often act as an anchor of surrounding regions, and exhibit high levels of connectivity with neighboring areas. They account for, connect with, and are compatible with adjacent neighborhoods and the community as a whole. Does the neighborhood:

  • Provide residents with access to regional destinations, such as employment opportunities, services, and recreational amenities?
  • Show a history of coordination with city-wide and regional development visions or plans?

Authentic Participation

Great Neighborhoods are built through planning processes that actively involve all segments of the community in analyzing issues, generating visions, developing plans, and monitoring outcomes. Does the neighborhood:

  • Engage diverse stakeholders and promote leadership development among community members, especially the disadvantaged and underserved, in all stages of the planning process?
  • Encourage diverse participation, and advocacy with community groups and members of disadvantaged communities?

What Makes a Great Street?

Livable Built Environment

Great Streets bring all elements of the built environment — including land use, transportation, housing, energy, and infrastructure — together to contribute to high quality of life. Does the street:

  • Encourage active forms of transportation such as walking and biking through specific design features?
  • Operate as part of a complete street network to enable safe access for all users?
  • Use design standards to improve function or appearance in a way that is consistent with the community context?
  • Contain safe and accessible public facilities and spaces?
  • Conserve, enhance, or reuse local cultural and historic resources?

Harmony with Nature

Great Streets recognize the value of natural systems and respond to their natural settings. Does the street:

  • Respond to underlying natural systems and topography, protecting and enhancing sensitive land, habitat, streams, and watersheds?
  • Exhibit green infrastructure design elements (i.e., street trees, park integration, innovative stormwater strategies, etc.) that improve stormwater performance, human health, water conservation, and urban heat island effect?

Resilient Economy

Great Streets build a community’s capacity to react to both positive and negative changes in economic circumstances by providing a hub for economic diversity and community connections.  Does the street:

  • Contain a thriving mix of businesses serving local needs in a way that is compatible with the character of the community?
  • Feature an active and engaged community association or local business alliance that promotes reinvestment, cultural programming, traffic-generating events, or other business activity along the street?

Interwoven Equity

Great Streets belong to everyone, serving a broad cross-section of the community members’ needs for housing, services, health, safety, and livelihood. Does the street:

  • Provide equitable access to public services, cultural amenities, job training, and health care for everyone, including minority, low-income, and other underserved populations?
  • Show a history of upgrades and refreshes to meet established modern standards for access, safety, and appearance?

Healthy Community

Great Streets contribute to their community’s health by providing safe and healthy access to high-quality food, physical activity, recreation, and health care services. Does the street:

  • Contain areas that have been remediated to protect businesses and residents from exposure to toxins and pollutants?
  • Promote security from crime, and is it perceived as safe for children and other users? (i.e., traffic calming, street lighting, bicycle, police, etc.)
  • Promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles through its design? For example, connections to parks, recreational facilities, greenways and/or open space.
  • Serve as a connection to healthy, locally grown foods?

Responsible Regionalism

Great Streets serve as hubs for the neighborhoods and regions in which they exist. They account for, connect with, and are compatible with the greater municipal street network and the community as a whole. Does the street:

  • Provide connections to a larger, regional transit network?
  • Connect regional activity centers and destinations?
  • Figure in a larger, connected grid of streets?

Authentic Participation

Great Streets are planned through the involvement of all segments of the community in analyzing issues, generating visions, developing plans, and monitoring outcomes. Does the street (or do its related planning efforts):

  • Engage diverse stakeholders and promote leadership development among community members, especially the disadvantaged and underserved, in all stages of the planning process?
  • Consistently provide information about ongoing investments, activities, and institutions to the community through various formats and channels?

What Makes a Great Public Space?

Livable Built Environment

Great Public Spaces are designed to support community quality of life by creating a space in which all elements of the built environment — including land use, transportation, housing, energy, and infrastructure — work together for the benefit of community members. Does the public space:

  • Illustrate that the space type, function and design are appropriate to the location, whether part of a neighborhood, downtown, special district, waterfront or other area within the public realm?
  • Accommodate all community members through connected and accessible sidewalks and pathways?
  • Provide nearby access to transit, bicycle infrastructure, and other means of transport?
  • Connect to a larger plan for mixed land-use patterns that are walkable and bikeable?
  • Promote, or act as an example of, infill development?
  • Conserve and reuse historic resources?
  • Illustrate the value of design standards appropriate to the community context?

Harmony with Nature

Great Public Spaces are designed to recognize the value of natural systems and respond to their natural settings. Does the public space:

  • Exhibit development patterns that are sensitive to existing natural habitats and topography?
  • Support environmentally friendly practices?
  • Include green infrastructure?
  • Promote the reduction/recycling of waste?
  • Protect natural water resources and encourage water conservation?

Resilient Economy

Great Public Spaces build a community’s capacity to react to both changes in economic circumstances by providing a hub for community connections and economic activity. Does the public space:

  • Provide opportunities for economic activity?
  • Feature cultural programming, traffic-generating events, or other activity that might support community and economic health in the area?

Interwoven Equity

Great Public Spaces are treasured by their entire communities, serving a diverse population’s need for safe and healthy recreation and community. Does the public space:

  • Improve the physical, environmental, and economic conditions of its community or neighborhood?
  • Specifically improve health and safety of at-risk populations?
  • Ensure cultural offerings are accessible to residents regardless of age, income, disability, etc.?

Healthy Community

Great Public Spaces contribute to the health of their community by providing safe and healthy access to physical activity, recreation, and community cultural events. Does the public space:

  • Incorporate any measures to reduce the public's exposure to toxins and pollutants?
  • Exist on a former brownfield site returned to productive use?
  • Promote security from crime, and is it perceived as safe for children and other users? (i.e., traffic calming, street lighting, bicycle, police, etc.)
  • Support physical activity and healthy lifestyles?
  • Contribute to access to healthy, locally grown foods?

Responsible Regionalism

A Great Public Space connects with, and is compatible with, surrounding land uses, public spaces, and the community as a whole. Does the public space:

  • Reflect the outcome of a local or regional open space planning process?
  • Promote regional cooperation?
  • Act as a regional anchor, drawing residents and visitors alike?

Authentic Participation

Great Public Spaces reflect the desires of all segments of the community, and are designed through planning process that involve a broad cross-section of community members in analyzing issues, generating visions, developing plans, and monitoring outcomes. Does the public space (or do its related planning efforts):

  • Engage diverse stakeholders and promote leadership development among community members, especially the disadvantaged and underserved, in all stages of the planning process?
  • Show diverse participation and community involvement when planning and hosting neighborhood events?
  • Include diverse leadership, participation, and advocacy with community groups and members of disadvantaged communities?

 

Now, you’re ready to download and complete the suggestion form. APA's Great Places Task Force will use the responses in the suggestion form to evaluate suggestions, so be thorough. 

2018 Great Places in America Suggestion Form (pdf)

2018 Great Places in America Suggestion Form (docx)

Finally, send your completed form to APA at greatplaces@planning.org.

Share the News

Tell your social networks that you suggested a 2018 Great Place. Use the official hashtag — #APAGreatPlaces — in your tweets and posts.

Our Process

APA reviews all suggestions. For those that are received — and in APA's opinion merit further study — we may request additional information.

Suggestions of interest are considered for designation by APA’s Great Places Task Force, a member-led team committed to sharing the value of planning through stories with influencers nationwide.

Communities with designations will be notified by APA in July. Great Places are celebrated at APA’s annual Policy and Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., in September and officially announced in October to kick off National Community Planning Month.