Activation is the lifeblood of any successful placemaking initiative. Our parks and open spaces are under tremendous pressure to offer all things to all people—to be places of respite, engagement, exploration, and discovery. They can also offer amenities that help balance competing demands for work, play, and leisure. Understanding how to fully program, fund, operate, and sustain urban open space lies at the center of healthy and vital communities. To realize the full potential of public urban space requires looking beyond the first-day, first-week, and first-year projections. Truly transformative projects require a new way of thinking about how to activate spaces daily, at night, and on weekends. This session will review the necessity of activation planning to achieve long-term success at a wide variety of scales, from pop-up tactical urbanism at the block scale, to fully programmed public parks with a million visitors annually. Led by an activation planner in a landscape architecture practice, together with an urban activist, this session will present how activation strategies can inform and shape the design process, and, in turn, bring people together.