Episode 17: Cultural Placemaking with Cynthia Ammerman

“I think we have to move away from planning from the ideal. The idea of placemaking triggers more with myself because placemaking is active.” — Cynthia Ammerman

This week, I talk to Cynthia Ammerman, the principal, historian and preservation strategist at Polis: Cultural Planning.

Cynthia began as a history major at University of Missouri- Kansas City, then took a break from academia to work in real estate for seven years. Her experience as a real estate broker helped her establish an interest in urban studies courses and neighborhood policies. When returning to UMKC to finish her education, Cynthia carved her own path through specific courses and independent study to receive a specialized master’s degree. She laid the framework for something that is now offered at UMKC: a Historic Preservation Certificate.

Cynthia has worked as a Program Development Officer, and Architectural Historian and as an Executive Director of a historical society. All of these positions provided her with valuable experience that she has translated into her job as a consultant.

Nowadays, Cynthia works as principal, historian and preservation strategist at her consulting firm, Polis: Cultural Planning. She places emphasis on active placemaking, rather than traditional planning, and involving people in the heritage of a place. She is also the Executive Director and co-founder of the Kansas City Latin Jazz Orchestra and is heavily involved with preserving the musical history of Kansas City.

Cynthia drives to move the future away from more traditional planning and into harmonious “Polis" planning, which is a Greek word that refers to a sacred place that cannot exist without its people. 

Current projects: Cynthia is getting ready to launch her book: Salsa in the Midwest. She has also been documenting social housing blocks in Chile and working on a National Register Nomination for an armory building in Kansas City.


Get in touch with Cynthia:


Instagram: @PolisCulturalPlanning

Email: Polis.Preservation@gmail.com