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What City Planners Can Learn From St. Paul’s Parque Castillo

By Catherine Nagel. Originally published: NextCity 

In St. Paul, Minnesota’s Parque Castillo, local artist Craig David is creating an installation celebrating the life of the late activist Nicholas Castillo, the park’s namesake. David is carving the benches that will surround the park’s “Celebration Lawn,” a grassy area that is part of a larger park makeover.

City parks have always served as a forum for cultural exchange and expression. Parque Castillo, and the new installation, are prime examples of a fresh direction in park design and programming known as creative placemaking. Creative placemaking seeks not only to renew important community landmarks like Parque Castillo, but to imbue them with a deeper sense of place that engages residents by celebrating local culture.

Craig David’s art depicts local Latino history, culture and the inspiring activism of Castillo and others who shaped the community. Thanks to his vision the park is infused with a cultural context that gives it soul. So compelling is this integration of public space and art space that park commissioners and Craig David recently earned the Toro Urban Park Innovation Award to help fund the project.

parque castillo plan

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