Place Game Workshop

Omaha by Design believes that neighbors should take an active role in making their community a better place. This philosophy is showcased in the execution of all projects and the offering of two free services – the Place Game and Place Definition workshops – in which trained facilitators help neighborhood associations and other civic groups brainstorm ways to improve the public spaces in their corner of the city.

The Place Game Workshop

The Place Game workshop is an organized way of brainstorming potential improvements to public spaces by listening to the people who use them. It was created by the Project for Public Spaces (PPS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Founded in 1975, PPS embraces the insights of William (Holly) White, a pioneer in understanding the way people use public spaces.

The Place Game is fun and easy to do. First, the host group selects several public spaces within its neighborhood to analyze. Small teams of people then visit these spaces, and each team is accompanied by a trained facilitator. The teams begin by looking, listening and walking around the spaces. Team members then rate the spaces according to four criteria – access and linkage, comfort and image, sociability, and uses and activities. They then brainstorm ideas for short- and long-term improvements as well as potential partners who could help them implement their ideas.

Omaha by Design conducts Place Game workshops free of charge from March through October. It supplies the materials and trained facilitators. It also provides the host group with fliers and assistance in promoting the workshop. It’s the host group’s responsibility to:

  • Get the commitment of their neighborhood association or civic group to conduct a Place Game
  • Identify the locations for analysis (help is available if it’s needed)
  • Provide a meeting space
  • Secure participants (successful Place Games require a minimum of 15 people)

In addition to gaining access to the materials and expertise required to conduct a Place Game, Omaha by Design will record and summarize all the input from the workshop and present the group with a report detailing all ideas and suggestions.

All Place Game participants are asked to evaluate their workshop experience. Here’s what some of them have said about the Place Game process:

  • The vision of others helped me to see what a beautiful place this could be.
  • I had an opportunity to look at an area more closely. I usually see if just from the car, driving by.
  • It gave me hope that change can occur.

Omaha by Design also offers Place Game “junior” workshops for groups that want to analyze a single site.

Since its inception, Omaha by Design has hosted more than 70 workshops throughout the city. For more information or to schedule a workshop, call 402.934.7055 or email

The Place Definition Workshop

Neighborhood associations and civic groups that have completed a Place Game workshop may want to consider hosting a Place Definition workshop, the next step in the Place Making process.

The Place Definition workshop organizes and prioritizes the ideas generated during a Place Game workshop. At the end of the Place Definition process, the host group will have a product that can be used as a blueprint for action or as an outline for grant applications.

Omaha by Design conducts Place Definition workshops throughout the year. Any interested group must complete a Place Game workshop prior to scheduling a Place Definition workshop. For more information, call 402.934.7055 or email


Omaha by Design’s Place Game and Place Definition workshops are led by a trained group of volunteer facilitators from a variety of backgrounds. Each is committed to helping create a better Omaha.

  • Dennis Bryers – City of Omaha Department of Parks, Recreation and Public Property
  • Ellen Fitzsimmons – urban planner
  • Teresa Gleason – Omaha by Design
  • Carol Haas – retired, Union Pacific
  • Chris Hall Meza – Omaha by Design
  • Mary Irwin – retired, City of Omaha Department of Planning
  • Larry Jacobsen – Schemmer
  • Molly Macklin – Schemmer
  • Norita Matt – City of Omaha Department of Planning
  • Ken Mayer – freelance writer, photographer and UNO adjunct faculty member
  • Pat Salerno – retired, Omaha Public Schools
  • Kim Shafer – National Park Service
  • Clint Sloss – Metropolitan Area Planning Agency
  • Ryan Willer – Neighborhood Center

To learn more about becoming a volunteer facilitator, call 402.934.7055 or email