"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"

Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)

"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"

Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster


Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.

I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.

Monday, August 27, 2012

UNCC Urban Institute

Location: Charlotte, NC

Website: www.sfestuary.org

The Institute is one of the nonpartisan applied research and community outreach centers of UNC Charlotte. Founded in 1969, the Institute provides a wide range of services, including technical assistance and training related to operations and data management; public opinion surveys; land-use and natural resources consulting; economic development research and community planning to meet the needs of the Charlotte region and its citizens.

The Institute is part of UNC Charlotte's Metropolitan Studies and Extended Academic Programs (MSExAP), which oversees a number of the University's premier community engagement initiatives. For more information on MSExAP, go to http://mseap.uncc.edu/.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Architecture and the City Festival

Location: San Francisco, CA

Website: www.mml.org

Welcome to the 9th annual Architecture and the City festival, the nation’s largest festival, showcasing San Francisco’s diverse architectural talent through tours, films, exhibitions, workshops, lectures and more. Taking place every September 1-30 in San Francisco, the festival offers individuals an unparalleled opportunity to engage with the local architectural community, and experience the ways in which design permeates, informs, and connects our city.

This year promises to be quite exceptional, with new programs that demonstrate the ways architects and designers enhance our communities and improve our collective quality of life by promoting sustainability and creativity.

We invite you to pause and partake in some of the nearly 50 events happening this month, to hear great designers discuss their work, to explore spaces and buildings you pass each day and to consider the multiple layers of history which have shaped San Francisco.

View outstanding contemporary residences in neighborhoods you haven’t visited during San Francisco Living: Home Tours on September 15 + 16 and join us in conversation with Bay Area designers as they collaborate to re-think contemporary urban problems at GOOD Design on September 27. We look forward to seeing you this September.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Location: Chicago, IL

Website: www.architreasures.org

archi-treasures is an arts-based community development organization reducing social isolation by creating grassroots partnerships to build public spaces, empowering individuals to shape their future and the future of their community.

Founded in 1996, archi-treasures was largely formed by architects and members of community development organizations around Chicago, who recognized the urgent need for Chicago communities to organize, build capacity and participate in the redevelopment of their neighborhoods.

The skills and training of artists, architects, and designers can be mobilized for the benefit of communities, in order to implement community ideas.

Useful, accessible and attractive public space is critical to the process of successful community building.

Community ideas can be accessed through a participatory design process which is central to every archi-treasures project.

Projects begin with identifying, activating, and supplementing community assets and resources.
archi-treasures projects are developed in partnership with a strong community-based organization that can and will contribute resources to the project.

The step-by-step process of planning and making things brings people together.

All communities, even the poorest, should have critical input into how their environment looks, feels and is used.

Everyone has something to contribute.

We value our relationships with community leaders and organizations, volunteers, corporate partners and residents, for it is through our work together that we truly make a difference.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Society for Commercial Archeology

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.sca-roadside.org

Drew University defines Commercial Archeology as: "The study of structures and artifacts created in connection with popular commercial activity, such as diners, motels, gasoline stations, and signs." Kris Hirst at About.com offers this definition: "Commercial archaeology focuses on the material culture aspects of commerce and transportation; studies the affects of market economy and the use of space, and the development of roadside businesses."

The term roadside architecture applies to buildings and other structures directly and indirectly associated with roads. Obvious examples include restaurants, motels and gas stations. Other examples include signs, vernacular buildings, shopping and retail centers, programmatic (or mimetic) structures as well as theme and amusement parks.

The SCA was organized by a group of scholars and experts who had an interest in commercial archeology. The group met in Vermont and in 1979, they formally organized.

At present, the operations of the SCA are managed throughout the country by the members of the board of directors.

The SCA maintains an archive of its own materials in Austin, Texas.

Any person or organization with an interest in commercial archeology is eligible for membership in the SCA. Each member in good standing shall be entitled to one vote on matter submitted to to the general membership. Joining the SCA is very easy.

Perhaps the most important first step is to contact your state preservation office. Tell them about the resource(s) and work with them to develop a plan for saving or protecting it. In addition to working with state preservation offices, contact organizations that are directly interested in the type of resource about which you are concerned. For example, if you are interested in protecting a drive-in movie theatre, track down organizations that work to protect drive-ins - such as the United Drive-In Theatre Owner's Association or DriveInMovie.com. Lastly, don't give up. Preservation efforts often take years. Persistence often pays off.

The SCA's interests are as varied as its members. The diverse interests of the groups range from the commonplace to the eclectic. Below is a listing of some of the more common interests:

Historic preservation
Architecture of all types including Art Deco, Modern, Googie, Programmatic/Mimetic, Vernacular

Highways of all types

Restaurants including diners, drive-ins and coffee houses

Gas stations and petroliana

Motels, hotels, tourist cabins, motor courts, etc.

Retail centers such a Main Streets, strip malls, indoor malls

Theatres - both enclosed and drive-in

To get a better sense of the variety of interests, check out the SCA's online membership form.

The mission of the Society is to recognize the unique historical significance of the 20th-century commercial built environment and cultural landscapes of North America, emphasizing the impact of the automobile and the commercial process. To this end, the Society will carry out projects of documentation, education, advocacy and conservation to encourage public awareness and understanding of these significant elements of our heritage.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Better Cities and Towns

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.urbantimes.org

Better! Cities & Towns is dedicated to providing the best news, analysis, and intelligence on compact, mixed-use growth and development available in any medium. We offer free blogs, articles, and links to useful content from around the web, updated daily.

We also offer premium articles from our periodical Better! Cities & Towns, formerly called New Urban News, that is available by subscription. Most members of the Congress for the New Urbanism subscribe as part of their membership.

We send out regular email updates to more than 15,000 recipients — mostly decision-makers and implementors of smart growth — and we are available on Facebook and Twitter.

Better! Cities & Towns is part of New Urban Publications, an expert publisher in this field since 1996. We also publish books, such as New Urbanism: Best Practices Guide — required reading for New Urbanism certification — and SmartCode Version 9 and Manual.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sustainable Cities Collective

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.sustainablecitiescollective.org

Sustainable Cities Collective is an editorially independent, moderated community for leaders of major metropolitan areas, urban planning and sustainability professionals. We look to aggregate content and provide resources for all who work in or are interested in urban planning, sustainable development and urban economics. Looking at issues such as transportation, building practices, community planning & development, education, water, health and infrastructure, we hope to create a community where people can get involved and learn about the advances in how cities are becoming smarter and greener in the 21st century.

There are plenty of ways to get involved: tie your existing blog's RSS feed directly into our site so that your posts are pushed to us automatically; manually submit exclusive content with our easy to use content creation platform; sign up for updates via RSS or email; follow us on Twitter @sustaincities or Like us on Facebook to keep up to date on all of our new content and events.

The Sustainable Cities Collective's mission enjoys the generous support of Siemens AG.