In this episode of Place Parts, we expand upon the role of “context keys” and authenticity” with Dr. Katherine Loflin, long-time consultant (the City Doctor), researcher, and producer of place-based community theater. Her career has significantly evolved from a principal role in the Knight Foundation’s Soul of the Community project. I first interviewed Loflin for an Atlantic article in 2011, about her weekly American radio show on placemaking ideas.

Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character looks behind tangible culture and character to the home and the everyday. Loflin has taken this idea to heart. Rather than indulge in more data gathering or development, she has—in her native North Carolina—created Amazing Place Productions. This effort is more reminiscent of expressive public art: a theatrical approach that enables residents to understand where they live.

In the video, Loflin explains how to tell the story of a place onstage. She describes active community involvement in performances that narrate key aspects of a city, town, or place.

Similar efforts are underway worldwide, including in London’s Borough of Southwark. There, initiatives such as Blackfriars Stories focus on aspects of regeneration beyond the purely physical as priorities in borough life.

Review the special “landing page” for Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character here.

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