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”

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.





Meet the IPM: Interview with Dr Jess Edwards

Jess EdwardsJess Edwards, Fellow of the Institute of Place Management, is Head of the Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research, since his Phd in the 1990s, has consistently focused on the literary aspects of geography and the geographic aspects of literature. Until 2014 his publications dealt with seventeenth and eighteenth century geographic culture, but recently he has begun a project exploring the place of literature, culture and public participation in landscape policy and strategy. Edwards is part of a local research group of creative writers and critics at Manchester Met with an interest in place, which supports an MA course route in Place Writing and a growing number of Postgraduate Research students in the area. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Dr Jess Edwards”

Meet the IPM: Tarun Sharma

Tarun SharmaTarun Sharma, Associate Member of the IPM, is the co-Founder of Nagrika, an indigenous research and advisory organization working specifically on issues of small towns. He has ten years of experience in the domain of urban policy research and consulting. He led the urban division at Ecorys, a research advisory firm and has previously worked with Deloitte, Indicus (now Nielsen-Indicus) and McKinsey. He has managed and implemented various government and donor-funded projects on issues related to urban renewal, housing, livelihoods, mobility and land titling. He has also worked with the Ministry of Urban Development and the Ministry of Housing on their flagship projects. He has been responsible for strategic business development activities as well as research, knowledge management, review and drafting of policies relating to urban local development. He is passionate about urban institutions and cultures. He holds a Master’s in Public Policy from National University of Singapore and Bachelor in Economics from Delhi University.

Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Tarun Sharma”

Meet the IPM: Interview with Paul Spencer

Paul Spencer is Projects and Operations Officer for Winchester Business Improvement District (BID) which is operated by Winchester City Centre Partnership. Prior to this he worked for 10 years in an economic development role with a particular focus on cultural and creative industries. He is in the final stages of his PhD in creative cities at the University of Winchester and he has given talks and guest lectures at universities and a range of different events, including conferences in the UK and overseas. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Institute of Place Management. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Paul Spencer”

Meet the IPM: Interview with Jean Ball

Jean Ball MIPM was City Centre Manager in Stoke-on-Trent back in 2007 when she was amongst the first coterie to qualify for Membership of the IPM. After an early career in retail Jean got involved in the arts and events industry delivering a diverse array of conferences, exhibitions, performances and spectacles in places ranging from a converted barn in rural Cheshire to Madison Square Gardens in New York. More recently, after over ten years in operational town and city centre management, Jean now works across the UK supporting places, people and organisations to achieve their potential. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Jean Ball”

Meet the IPM: Interview with Mihalis Kavaratzis

mihalis kavaratzisMihalis Kavaratzis is Associate Professor of Marketing at the School of Business, University of Leicester, UK. He holds a PhD on city marketing from the University of Groningen, Netherlands and has taught marketing and tourism related courses in the Netherlands, Hungary and the UK. His research focuses on the theory and application of place marketing, place branding and tourism destination marketing. Mihalis also acts as an adviser and delivers workshops for local authorities on Place Marketing and Place Branding. He has published extensively on those topics including the co-edited volumes ‘Towards Effective Place Brand Management’ (with G.J. Ashworth, 2010), ‘Rethinking Place Branding’ (with G. Warnaby and G.J. Ashworth, 2015) and ‘Inclusive Place Branding’ (with M. Giovanardi and M. Lichrou, 2017). Mihalis is a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Place Management. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Mihalis Kavaratzis”

Meet the IPM: Interview with Maarja Kaaristo

© Mike Poloway/+44(0)1618503338 / Canal and River Trust. Rochdale Canal, Manchester City Centre, around Lock 89. 17 April 2016. Volunteer, Maarja Kaaristo.
© Mike Poloway/+44(0)1618503338 / Canal and River Trust. Rochdale Canal, Manchester City Centre, around Lock 89. 17 April 2016. Volunteer, Maarja Kaaristo.

Maarja Kaaristo is a PhD Researcher and an Associate Lecturer at the School of Tourism, Events and Hospitality Management, Manchester Metropolitan University. She is currently researching embodied experiences and everyday life of the leisure boaters on the canals of north-west England. She holds a MA in ethnology from University of Tartu, Estonia and has taught Anthropology of Tourism and Ethnographic Research Methods there. Her main research interests include mobilities, materialites and sensory experiences in (rural) tourism, ethnographic methods and history of European Ethnology. Her most recent publication deals with mundane aspects of water tourism mobilities. When not boating or writing about boating, she is volunteering for Inland Waterways Association and Canal and River Trust. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Maarja Kaaristo”

Meet the IPM: Interview with Fabiana Gondim Mariutti

Fabiana Gondim Mariutti
Fabiana Gondim Mariutti

Fabiana is an associate member of the IPM. Her career started in business communication twenty-two years ago. She is third generation from a family of mixed-European immigrants, (Italian, Portuguese, Dutch) who settled in Brazil around 1880. This diverse ancestry made her pay attention to countries’ distinctiveness since her childhood. As a Brazilian living in the United States of America in 1990, she realized that each country is known through particular images, associations and stereotypes. After working in corporate environments until 2009 (strategy, marketing communications, branding, public relations), she embraced the challenge of becoming a researcher in 2010 and completed a Master’s degree in business on the topic of ‘country brands’. This year, Fabiana is finalizing her PhD in Business in the UK. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Fabiana Gondim Mariutti”

Meet the IPM: Interview with Marta Hereźniak

Marta HereźniakMarta Hereźniak is associate member of the Institute of Place Management and Adjunct Professor at the University of Lodz, Poland. She is the author of the first in Poland doctoral dissertation and the first book about nation branding, expert of Polish Chamber of Commerce and the Institute of Polish Brand. She is a consultant in brand-related projects for companies, public institutions (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Regional Development etc.) and local governments and a member of Brand for Poland project. She is a leading consultant in the project on Kazakhstan country brand and Co-author of European Funds Brand strategy in Poland. Her research interests include place brand identity development; measurement of place branding effectiveness, stakeholder engagement in place branding, place of origin branding. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Marta Hereźniak”