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How do we define “quality” in relation to place?

Since the new millennium, numerous urban and social theorists have increasingly noted the important role that place assumes in our daily lives and our society as a whole. As a result, issues of “place identity” and “quality of place” have recently become frequent topics in the media, and this has led to a greater overall awareness the fact that place matters. This theme is continually echoed and reinforced by the regular conducting and reporting of “most” and “best” city lists (i.e. “most livable city” or “best city for young professionals”).

These lists are representative of our increased interest in the conditions and attributes of the places where we choose to live, work and play. However, in reality, the quality of a city, or some other place, is not expressed to its users as a quantifiable equation or ranking, as these lists may suggest. Yet, we are all able to easily distinguish places of high quality from more mundane places. Why is this? In other words, how would you describe the conditions (physical, social, economic, etc.) that define a place of high quality? At Greater Ohio, we are interested in promoting state policies that encourage both the maintenance and creation of places of the highest quality and would like to know what you think constitutes places of high quality.