“A leader is someone who takes initiative in isolating a problem and proposes a solution while gathering others to work towards that specific goal”
-Robinson Esialimba and Sarah Mills

On April 20th around 2000 youth gathered to participate in the Wings to Fly Event supported by the Equity Foundation. The Equity Foundation provides scholarships and leadership training for youth all over Kenya who are academically gifted yet economically and socially marginalized. Public Space Network, UN Habitat, Dandora Transformation League, and East Africa Institute were invited to speak on Placemaking and then more specifically Leadership in Placemaking.

I was asked to create a PowerPoint and present about Leadership in Placemaking. I did this by making the presentation more interactive for the youth. Before this presentation I was unaware of the defintion Placemaking about a week earlier. Through my research and work on this presentation I became well versed on this topic.

What is placemaking?

“Placemaking is the art and science of making authentic, vibrant and resilient places that are valued by their communities and admired by visitors” (UN Habitat, 2017).

Robinson Esialimba, Founder and Chairman of Dandora Transformation League and Public Space Network, shared his own story on why he gives back to society. Mark, from UN Habitat, introduced the youth to placemaking and the work that his team has done. Charles, CEO of Dandora Transformation League, shared why and how he started transforming the spaces in Mustard Seed Court and shared before and after images of parts of Dandora that have been changed. We could tell the youth were amazed and inspired. Evans (also from DTL), shared his personal story on how the success hasn’t just transformed spaces but transformed lives as well, like his. I was next and by the time it was my turn to present we didn’t have much time left.

I was told I only had time to do one question and I wasn’t actually able to hear which one that was. I just picked one of my questions that would best explain how they could be leaders and mobilize their community through placemaking. It was VERY rushed and I remember after wishing I had more time as I could tell they were wanting to interact and thought they could really be encouraged by this part.

I would say this presentation quickly changed from a lesson on leadership to one on humility. I did what I could do with the little time I had and I decided not to be upset with how it turned out. It may have not turned out how I had imaged but I did learn so much in those brief moments. We can plan all we want but there are times when circumstances just happen and we have to learn to be flexible and to just go with the flow. The has been one of the main lessons I have learned while being here.

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