Co-creation and Collaboration

Photograph: Ian Southerin – Location Photography

by Heather Skinner 

Themes from the 4th Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places 24-27 April 2017

Co-creation and Collaboration, between those responsible for managing and marketing places and a place’s stakeholders, and also between different places, also arose in many discussions at the recent 4th Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places, 24-27 April 2017.

The paper “Co-Constructing the Gaze: Existential Authenticity and Tourist Experience Co-Creation” presented by Maria Lichrou and co-authored with Lisa O’Malley and Maurice Patterson, all from the University of Limerick, also examined authenticity, but in relation to how authentic experience co-creation and engaging place marketing efforts could help capture diverse tourist roles and motivations. Continue reading “Co-creation and Collaboration”

Reflections from the 4th Corfu Symposium, Part II: Authenticity & Place

by Heather Skinner

Themes from the 4th Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places 24-27 April 2017

What constitutes an ‘authentic’ place? How do we define ‘authenticity’? What does this mean for the way we manage and market places? Some of these questions were raised in the following papers presented at the recent 4th Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places, 24-27 April 2017.

Gillian Rodríguez from the University of Central Lancashire, UK, was awarded the prize for Best Paper at the Symposium for her paper “The Local Consumers’ Gaze Interpreted as Regional Food Brand Essence”. Her research concerned creating effective regional food brands characterised by branding actions which do not have the food product details at their core.

Continue reading “Reflections from the 4th Corfu Symposium, Part II: Authenticity & Place”

Can Places Think?

Ares Kalandides place agency intentionalityby Ares Kalandides

The short answer is, of course, that they can’t. Places – even if we think of them as formed through social relations and not as mere physical locations – simply can’t think. They’re not human; they’re not even animal. Social relations are not just the sum of individual actions, but rather a much more complex outcome of human interaction. So, if places can’t think, why do we keep reading academic papers where London “intends to show” something or Berlin “aspires to be” whatever? As I have written before, this figure of speech is metaphorical: places are personified and given agency to avoid more complex phrasing. I firmly believe this is not only wrong, but can lead to risky oversimplifications.

“Place is generative, but it has no agency and certainly no intentionality.”

It is not that we cannot understand places as political actors in themselves. Cities and countries in a sense are actors in many cases. Berlin plays a particular role in European politics and London in world finance. However, I’d rather conceptualise that as a generative capacity of place. As geographers since the 1970s were able to show, space (and place) is an outcome of social relations, but is also capable of producing new ones. Berlin is the outcome of physical space and its interactions with social relations in that particular location over time. However this particular juxtaposition of those particular social relations in that particular location is not only an outcome, but can generate new relations, as different elements interact again in ever changing constellations. So, places are outcomes, but they are also processes and generative of new social relations. But places don’t have agency, and certainly no intentionality.

The way we use language is not without consequences for the ‘real world’. It is both a sign of how we think, but more than this, it can form thinking. Thinking of place as having agency can lead to dangerous localisms and nationalisms. When you keep reading of the UK demanding a “hard Brexit”, you will tend to believe that the whole country is caught in a fight against Europe. But what about the 48% who voted to remain? Do they also demand hard Brexit? And will other Europeans now start seeing a hard Brexiter every single Brit? When you read that “Germany demands more cuts from Greece in the Eurozone crisis”, do you really believe that it reflects the actions of every German instead of those of particular groups and their interests? It is a very easy next step to turn “the Greeks against the Germans” and vice versa. The UK vs. Europe or Germany vs. Greece are not only innocent oversimplifications. They are clearly rhetorical devices meant to conceal group (including class) interests.

“The way we use language is not without consequences for the ‘real world'”.

So what can be done about it? How can we express something similar without falling into the trap of the personification of Place? There are several ways this can be done: You can choose to avoid the use of a specific subject in the clause or – even better in my opinion – you can choose to name the agent. For example: Certainly not all Berliners want their home to become a world city, but many surely do. So, instead of “Berlin aspires to become a world city” rather choose “There is the intention to turn Berlin into a world city” or better still “The current government [or whoever it is] intends to position Berlin as a world city”. The latter makes agency transparent and shows the power relations in Place. Only by naming the powerful agents behind particular choices, can you conceive of ways of dealing with them. If we keep on ascribing agency to places, or even worse, ascribing intentionality to them, we risk masking the real power games behind Place.


Reflections on the 4th Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places

Corfu Symposium Institute of Place Management Ares Kalandides
Photographer: Ian Southerin – Location Photography

By Heather Skinner*

The 4th Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places took place 24-27 April 2017 at the Mayor Mon Repos Palace Art Hotel. The Institute of Place Management (IPM) now organises the Symposium, and has once again provided formal accreditation for the event. The Symposium focuses on both theory and practice, on both knowledge production and its impact, and this is unusual at academic events. The IPM’s links with the Journal of Place Management and Development (JPMD) with its focus on communicating with academics, practitioners, policy makers and local government, is also a driving factor behind the balance between academic and practitioner input into this event, and a special issue of the JPMD (Volume 10 Number 2) has been devoted to a selection of papers from our past events related to the Special Issue theme of Responsible Tourism and Place Making.

Continue reading “Reflections on the 4th Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places”

Archive: Integrating crime prevention into urban design and planning

Integrating crime prevention into urban design and planning: From European procedures to local delivery methods

Journal of Place Management & Development, Special issue 9.2: Crime Prevention through Urban Design, Planning & Management.

by Caroline Davey and Andrew Wootton


This paper aims to understand the delivery of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) across Europe – from European-wide procedures through national schemes to effective local strategies.

Continue reading “Archive: Integrating crime prevention into urban design and planning”

Can you make authentic places?

We often experience places as authentic when they correspond to the image we have of them in our minds. ©Photo by Aimilia Ioannidis.

by Ares Kalandides*

Destination marketing is obsessed with place authenticity and for good reasons. Tourists, it is said, want to experience the ‘real thing’. What is that real thing? What are authentic places? We know that some places feel more ‘real’ than others, but what does that feeling mean? Is place authenticity the same as the ‘sense of place’?

Imagine the following situation: You are walking in the mountains, maybe wandering through a beautiful forest with no one around. You enjoy the sounds of the forest animals, the smell of the damp earth. The light through the trees makes you dreamy. You enjoy the solitude, that feeling that you are into some kind of discovery of nature and of yourself.

“There are things that give us the feeling that places are authentic, but when examined closely they are somehow flawed.”

Behind the trees you discover a small well-designed kiosk. As you approach a very friendly person greets you: “Would you like some information about the other sights in the area?” Suddenly you are not in the discovery of nature any longer. That very friendly greeting makes you feel that you had been duped. What you thought was an untouched forest was in fact part of the packaged local sights. Continue reading “Can you make authentic places?”

Meet the IPM: Interview with Dr Paul O’Hare

Paul O HareDr Paul O’Hare, a Fellow of the Institute of Place Management, is a Lecturer in Geography and Development at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has conducted research on the theme of resilience for almost ten years across a number of funded research projects. This has included work to develop the use of adaptive technologies for flood risk management, and efforts to use urban design to secure crowded public spaces from terrorist attacks.

He recently completed a UK Government (Defra) funded project that examined the development of surveying for property level protection from flooding (Surveying for Flood Resilience in Individual Properties). His current research examines: the contribution that civil society and citizens can make to risk management; insurance, flood vulnerability and maladaptation; and contested expertise in risk governance. From a practical perspective, he currently works with flood-affected localities to identify ways to help communities become more resilient to future flooding.

In the past he has launched guidance documents for citizens and stakeholders hoping to utilise property level protection ( ), and has advised local and national government on the complexities of contemporary risk management. He is a member of several professional/ academic networks and regularly contributes to research and seminars uniting academics, practitioners, policy makers and NGOs. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Dr Paul O’Hare”

Archive: Urban crime prevention – broadening of perspectives

Journal of Place Management & Development, Special issue 9.2: Crime Prevention through Urban Design, Planning & Management.

by Herbert Schubert

Continue reading “Archive: Urban crime prevention – broadening of perspectives”

Developing capacity and capability in rural Albania

Dr Heather Skinner, Chair of the IPM’s Responsible Tourism SIG, has recently returned from 2 weeks teaching in Albania. Heather is one of a number of international academics that contribute to delivering the formal classroom based theory sessions for the BA Business and Economics at the Faculty of Business and Technology at Nehemiah Gateway University in rural Buçimas, a small town in the Pogradec Municipality in the Korçë region of Albania, located around 130 km from the nation’s capital, Tiranë.

by Heather Skinner

Albania, like many former communist countries across the European continent, has found that it is not always easy to overturn the impact of centralization to both education and to the economy, or to turn around educational concepts that have been ingrained over many years of a communist regime.

“Regional development becomes critical for a country where almost 60% of its population live in rural areas, where almost half are engaged in only small-scale subsistence based agricultural activities.”

This makes it difficult for the nation to reap the economic benefits of the creation of a growing liberalized free-market economy, particularly underpinned by forward looking entrepreneurial business and management programmes within an adaptive and supportive HE infrastructure. Continue reading “Developing capacity and capability in rural Albania”

Meet the IPM: Alison Karim-McSwiney

Alison Karim-McSwineyAlison Karim-McSwiney, Member of the Institute of Place Management, is the Executive Director with the International Avenue Revitalization Zone (INTAVE BRZ) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She is a graduate of the University of Calgary and is certified as an International Place Manager (UK). She has 20 years of experience as a place manager and is the recipient of many awards. Her recent successes include securing land for an art centre and $176 million for the multimodal redesign and infrastructure improvements along the business high street with affordability and inclusivity as key components. Alison has been instrumental in bringing innovative community initiatives to International Avenue. The Calgary Herald chose her as a one of the top New Mavericks of Alberta.

Alison Karim-McSwiney, you are the executive director of International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ). What is International Avenue and what do your tasks involve?

Alison Karim-McSwiney: As the founding Executive Director my tasks have been pretty much everything. Planning, marketing, crime prevention, special events, member relations, place-making, development, business retention, recruitment, non-profit management, community advocate, fund developer and innovator. International Avenue is a primary goods area with over 415 businesses which range from multinationals to small family run shops.

You have worked for International Avenue for two decades now. Do you find that your challenges have changed significantly? How has your worked evolved over time?

Alison Karim-McSwiney: When I was first hired, I remember thinking how on earth can I market a place, which is crime-ridden, where the area is so marginalized and the problems prolific. Our initial strategy was to bring the community together with a large event to show pride. Work to create business crime prevention programs including the very first business block watch in Western Canada. The infrastructure was substandard and it became apparent that this area was not a priority for the municipality. The City, pretty much in my mind, was ghettoizing the area. Anything that would be controversial in other parts of the City often slipped in here unchallenged. Pro-liferation of negative uses was prevalent.

“International Avenue is a primary goods area with over 415 businesses which range from multinationals to small family run shops.”

We went about the task of reviewing planning documents that ruled the area and found because the area was huge, over 35 blocks (4 Km) and with a population of 50,000 residents along the borders of the street, that the documents were out dated, or non-consistent and in some parts of the long strip, non-existent. No cohesive document existed for street as a whole. On further examination, the main plan for the street the City had going forward was to essentially turn it into a high-speed roadway which would cut off the access of residents to the businesses with a plan of over 26 road closures thus largely eradicating businesses at the same time. In discussing this with City officials, we were told that our area was not on the radar and that no planning help would be available. The Board of Directors proved to be a benevolent bunch, which allowed my Team to tackle the social issues, as well as the myriad of other issues, affecting our business area.

“Our group decided to “put the forest in Forest Lawn” with a tree planting project of 300 trees along the street.”

We took small steps to get us there. A landscape plan and strategy to move us to the ultimate vision of the area was created in the ‘90’s. The municipality was not supportive of our initial plan as it went against theirs. Ours embraced walkability- in many cases proper sidewalks were not even existent currently, public spaces, site amenities etc. The true irony was that the community was named Forest Lawn but no trees or landscaping were present due to the City’s plan to widen the road. Our group in turn, decided to “put the forest in Forest Lawn” with a tree planting project of 300 trees along the street. We had to sign a 30 day removal clause in case the road widening took place but we decided to risk this as the financing for such a road project was not in the cards for decades.

You have created the series of events, “Around The World Food Tours”. Why was the goal of this event? What is it and what effect has it had? How has your experience been so far?

Alison Karim-McSwiney: We started developing community and increased the business profitability with events, worked on crime prevention strategies, marketed as a multicultural area where you could “go Around the World in 35 Blocks” just by visiting our street. I remember people telling me they did not wish to go into a business, as they were obviously “gang” members. This was not true of course, but the stigma of the culture was hard to reverse.

Around the World Food Tour took visitors to our area on a world travel experience without leaving the City.”

I decided to test market an idea in 1997 that would allow people to safely meet the shopkeepers and learn about their products. I called it “Around the World Food Tour” which promised to take visitors to our area on a world travel experience without leaving the City. We treated our new customers as tourists playing up the fun of it. A bus toured around our area and I hired celebrities to educate the group as a tour operator about the culture we were visiting in each store. Our tour took people to Jamaica, Vietnam, Lebanon, Portugal, India and Germany in a four-hour timeframe. We tried prepared food samples at each location and explained how the different products on the business shelves of each location could be used. Meeting the shopkeeper who was ever so pleased to welcome them really worked magic. Not surprisingly, people loved it. Passengers were given coupons to spend; recipes to try later, which we hoped, would bring them back. So now some 20 years later the tours take place monthly or 12 times a year and are sold out within 24 hours of being placed on the website. The best possible type of advertising- that being “word of month” advertising means we do not even have to advertise anywhere else than our own website. People spend money, have been frequenting the stores and have given us the reputation of the area for ethnic speciality food items. It was the first event of its kind in Canada, created in 1997 and still going strong. A resounding success! Sold out within 24 hours of posting new dates.

What other goals has International Avenue pursued and how successful have you been?

Alison Karim-McSwiney: Now we still never lost sight of the ultimate goal to upgrade the infrastructure and created an award winning visionary document entitled “Envisioning International Avenue”. We did this by partnering with the University of Calgary Environmental Design Faculty. We convinced them into creating the ultimate classroom real world experience. A multi-disciplinary class consisting of social workers, architects, urban planners, transportation engineers, historians etc. took a full semester of International Avenue thus immersing them in our issues. The resulting document won a Charter Award from the Congress of New Urbanism as the plan proposed Transit Oriented Development (TOD), mixed use and a new way to look at the area. After the award was won, we took to lobbying politicians, creating lots of media buzz and what we are proposing the international community recognized as outstanding planning.

“Our philosophy was that the area was substandard to begin with requiring government funding and that as an affordable community, it was imperative to not gentrify to a level that would remove what made the area unique, that being a landing area for immigrants to realize their dream of setting up a business.”

Then the wheels went into motion. The City put resources into action to review and create a plan similar to ours. In 2011, the SE17 Land Use and Urban Design Plan was approved as the way forward. Unfortunately, no funding was available and we did not want to charge our landowners, through a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) model, to build the necessary infrastructure changes. Our philosophy was that the area was substandard to begin with requiring government funding and that as an affordable community, it was imperative to not gentrify to a level that would remove what made the area unique, that being a landing area for immigrants to realize their dream of setting up a business. So now in 2017, over 176 million dollars of public funding have been allocated to create the ultimate vision. A street with dedicated transit, wide sidewalks, public art, community gathering spaces, mixed use and an outstanding urban design component. The construction will be completed in fall of 2018. The dream finally fulfilled.

You completed the International Certificate in Place Management at the Institute of Place Management in 2011. Do you find that the qualifications from this course have influenced your work? If yes, in what way?

Alison Karim-McSwiney: I think it is always important to keep yourself fresh with new ideas and practices in the industry. I found the course extremely rewarding as it made me think academically again despite being out of university for a couple of decades.

Being open to new ideas and research is a must in our industry, which IPM does an outstanding job in that regard. However, my particular experience is exceptionally unique. As the first executive director hired to set up the organization and then being able to continue the process through to a successful end over a twenty plus year timeline is largely unheard of. That does not mean that my journey ends here, however, as I think we need to be flexible to the needs of the member businesses in achieving the strategic goals set out by them and be fluid enough to seize opportunities to help in achieving your organizations ultimate goals. What I can bring to the table is a well-rounded knowledge of revitalization work from getting established to rolling with the forks in the road along the way.

The interview was conducted by Ares Kalandides.