Pop-Up pointers and #DIYcity Storify

On June 21, 2015, I was one of dozens of volunteers creating pop-up placemaking projects all over Edmonton as part of Make Something Edmonton and City of Edmonton cityLAB’s first #DIYcity event. 

I was part of the team that organized the Highest Point Pop-Up Playground. This community-painted bench at the south end of the glacial kame in Rabbit Hill Natural Area was created as part of the pop-up.

I was part of the team that organized the Highest Point Pop-Up Playground. This community-painted bench at the south end of the glacial kame in Rabbit Hill Natural Area was created as part of the pop-up. Photo: Deborah Merriam

Want to create your own pop-up event in Edmonton? Here are some tips I learned the hard way:

1. Find out who owns the land where you want to hold your event. I was told that the Province of Alberta needs months, not days, to get a project idea through a permit application process if it’s on provincially owned land. The City of Edmonton is not only quicker to give you a permit to use city-owned parkland, but has resource people like community recreation co-ordinators who can guide you through the event creation process, answer all your questions and connect you with other people who can help you make your idea a reality.

2. You’ll probably need both funding and special event liability insurance. Make Something Edmonton’s resource list can help you apply for it right away. Make Something’s staff are an invaluable resource, too.

3. Keep your target participants and volunteers in mind while you decide on where and when your pop-up will happen. (For example, Father’s Day turns out to be problematic for a family-friendly event, because volunteers and participants have other commitments on that day.)

4. Sometimes you have to let the space you’re working with tell you what your project should look like. If, as we did, you learn that the area has a long history of indigenous use, you should strive to acknowledge it in an appropriate and respectful manner. The city’s Aboriginal Relations Office is an incredible resource to help you with that.

5. Design your pop-up activities to avoid any possible barriers to participation. Using paint? It’ll get messy, especially if children are involved! Provide smocks so participants don’t ruin their clothes, or choose a different activity. 

6. Looking for inspiration? Great search terms to start with are “pop-up placemaking” and “tactical urbanism.” You also might find inspiration in this Storify summary of the first #DIYcity event:

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