"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.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Waterfront Partnership

Location: Baltimore, MD

Website: www.waterfrontpartnership.org

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore Inc. is proud to serve as our Harbor’s chief advocate, promoter, and steward. In a 2003 Report produced by the Greater Baltimore Committee, a call to action was issued in order to preserve the precious jewel we so often take for granted.

Citing its fragility, the GBC issued a clarion call for renewed attention to our Harbor. Property and business owners, attractions and other waterfront interests responded immediately to the GBC’s call to action.

Working in partnership with the City, by the fall of 2005 the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc. was created to manage, promote and advocate on behalf of the waterfront. Currently bounded by the Rusty Scupper on the south and extending round the harbor to Bond Street Wharf.

The Partnership’s Clean, Safe, Hospitality, and Green Teams have worked daily to ensure Baltimore’s Waterfront is clean, friendly and beautiful.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Yorkers for Parks

Location: New York, NY

Website: www.ny4p.org

New Yorkers for Parks conducts research and develops tangible policy recommendations around our findings related to park development, management and sustainability. Using this research as a foundation for our advocacy campaigns, NY4P drives both immediate actions and long-term policies that protect and enhance the city’s vast network of parks, ensure adequate and equitable distribution of open space resources to all neighborhoods, and inform and empower communities throughout New York City to advocate for their open space needs.

To support our efforts,NY4P builds and maintains strategic partnerships with government officials and agencies, local parks groups and conservancies, academic institutions, and other key stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

Our guiding principles are:

- Open spaces, and the resources to support them, should beequitably distributed,

- Existing parks and open spaces should be well-maintained,

- Parks are an essential public service and should be primarily funded by public dollars, and

- Innovative financing strategies for creating, improving, and maintaining open space should be explored to augment public dollars.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Urban Prototyping

Location: San Francisco, CA

Website: www.urbanprototyping.org

UP: San Francisco is a festival centered around Placemaking Through Prototyping: How Citizen Experiments Reimagine the Public Realm. The festival fosters a wide array of new creative projects which blend the digital and physical to explore new possibilities in public space. Every project produced is open source, publicly documented, and replicable in any city in the world.

The project teams behind these works represent exciting new collaborations between the creative technology, participatory art, and urban design communities. The UP Festival 2012 series of events – centered around an open call for proposals, a weekend makeathon, and a public street exposition– brought together thousands of participants and attendees, building a community around civic engagement through creative work.

The UP exposition in October 2012 served as a high-visibility public venue for showcasing San Francisco’s leadership in the fields of technology, design, civic participation, and maker culture.

UP ia a global movement exploring how participatory design, art, and technology can improve cities. Each UP Festival uses its own strategy to uniquely address that city’s specific circumstances – soliciting, testing, and deploying digital and physical projects with high potential for impact.

Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA), the San Francisco nonprofit dedicated to building social consciousness through digital culture, in partnership with Rebar, IDEO, and strong local partners in cities around the globe.

UP: San Francisco is produced in partnership with Intersection for the Arts and the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, with many other organizations contributing to the effort. For more information, see our Partners page.

San Francisco is the second city to host an UP Festival, with Singapore hosting the inaugural festival in conjunction with the World Cities Summit in June-July 2012. Produced in partnership with Newton Circus and Re:Imagine Group,

UP Singapore focused on how public and private data could be leveraged to build new web and mobile applications promoting health and sustainability.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Location: Nationwide

Website: www.rethinkhousing.org

Having a place to live is a basic need for everyone. Yet, for some people, it remains out of reach. Public housing serves approximately 2.2 million people across the U.S., but the need is much greater; more than half a million people are on waiting lists.

According to the ReThink Survey: "Perceptions of Public Housing 2013", the overwhelming majority of Americans believe U.S. citizens deserve a safe and decent place to live. Yet most Americans surveyed do not support public housing in their own neighborhoods and would not want to live near a public housing unit.

ReThink creates awareness for, and inspires people to learn about, public housing. This initiative encourages the public to realize the benefits that public housing offers individuals as well as the greater community. The ReThink initiative was developed by Housing Authority Insurance, Inc. (HAI, Inc.), with the support of its trade partners in the public housing industry.

HAI, Inc. is a part of HAI Group, which is a family of companies that serves the public and affordable housing community with special, niche insurance programs as well as other value-added products and services such as training and software solutions. HAI Group and its trade partners believe in supporting ReThink to further the mission and purpose of public housing to provide housing and services to millions of Americans who might otherwise be homeless.

Backstreet Cultural Museum

Location: New Orleans, LA

Website: www.backstreetmuseum.org

The Museum’s mission is to present and preserve the unique cultural traditions of New Orleans’ African American society, including Mardi Gras Indians, Jazz funerals, and Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs.

Through its programs and exhibitions of artifacts, memorabilia, photos, and videos, the Museum endeavors to protect these treasures of the community.

The Backstreet Cultural Museum is the only museum dedicated to these rich folk-life and musical traditions. The Museum’s goal is to promote a deeper and more widespread understanding of the New Orleans African-American heritage through exhibits and presentations of the art and music surrounding the celebration of these traditions.

The Museum serves as a repository for the cultural traditions of New Orleans’ urban society. The Museum contains exhibits, artifacts, memorabilia, films and videos depicting Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, and Traditional Jazz Funerals.

These three elements represent cultural institutions born from the spirit of the community in an effort to define and express itself. These unique aspects of the African American heritage in New Orleans are guarded by those who still practice these traditions.

The Museum is housed in a creole cottage in the heart of a New Orleans neighborhood known as the “Treme”. The Museum and the Treme are cemented in history by a cultural legacy. The Backstreet Cultural Museum is perfectly at home in its surroundings and serves as a focal point of the Treme and the cultural community it represents. The Treme, located directly adjacent to the French Quarter, has been and continues to be a vibrant enclave of musicians and artists in New Orleans.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

New Geography

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.newgeography.com

NewGeography.com is a site devoted to analyzing and discussing the places where we live and work.

We want to know not only what is happening, but also how you, your company and your community can best adapt to rapidly changing conditions.

We welcome your writing, your thoughts on the site, and your insights on economic development, metropolitan demographics, and community leadership.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

St. Claude Main Street

Location: New Orleans, LA
Website: swww.stclaude.org

St. Claude Main Street is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, run by an all-volunteer board of community members, whose mission is to promote and support an economically thriving and culturally rich crossroads of historic communities.

We work within the larger St. Claude Cultural District, including the neighborhoods of St. Roch, Bunny Friend, Bywater, and the Faubourg Marigny, with specific focus on the development of St. Claude Avenue from Elysian Fields to Poland Ave.

The development of St. Claude Avenue continues to provide both challenges and inspiring opportunities for our diverse and historic community. As a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, St. Claude Main Street (St. Claude Main Street) is dedicated to supporting community and economic development along our designated portion of the corridor.

We believe that the best way to ensure equitable, sustainable and prosperous development is by engaging our community and empowering stakeholders to participate in revitalization efforts. We have a lot of work to do, but we cannot think of a better community work in and with. We look forward to seeing you on St. Claude Avenue soon.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Long Island Index

Location: Long Island, NY

Website: www.longislandindex.org

The Long Island Index created the Build a Better Burb competition and maintains the Build a Better Burb website. The Index is a project of the Rauch Foundation, a Long Island-based family foundation established in 1961.

The Foundation acts as the convener of the Long Island Index Advisory Committee and the financial underwriter of the Index.

In 2011, the Long Island Press described the Index as “the most definitive status report on the quality of Long Island life.

Long Island is one region with a shared history, geography, beaches, aquifers, and a shared future. But from day- to-day, our differences seem more apparent than our similarities. We are 2 counties, 2 cities, 13 towns, 95 incorporated villages, 37 legislative districts. We have 110 library districts, 125 school districts and 187 fire districts plus hundreds of other special districts. Sometimes it is easier to see these as many fragments rather than our shared whole.

We created The Long Island Index to focus on our region as a whole – those things that unite us, issues that can only be understood by looking at the big picture. Whether it is how our economy is changing, the types of jobs we are creating, how well our schools are doing to educate all students, our political structure, the health of our natural environment, or types of housing we’re providing, the Index explores all these issues and more by analyzing how each plays out across our 1,198 square miles.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Rebuild Foundation

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.rebuiild-foundation.org

Rebuild Foundation helps neighborhoods thrive through culture-driven redevelopment by activating abandoned spaces with arts and cultural programming. We transform under-resourced communities by leveraging economic and cultural resources to:

- Strengthen neighborhoods through community-driven programming,spatial equity for underserved artists and creative people,

- Educate and provide opportunity through work force enhancement, and

- Invest in creative entrepreneurs and local artists to spark economies.

Rebuild hosted the 2012 Bruner Loeb Forum "The Art of Placemaking" conference and will break ground on the Dorchester Artist Housing Collaborative in 2013 with the Chicago Housing Authority, transforming an empty housing project into a 36-unit complex with mixed income housing and a community arts center for programming, performance, and arts exhibitions.

Rebuild Foundation, a not-for-profit creative engine focused on cultural-driven redevelopment and affordable space initiatives in under-resourced communities, currently manages projects in Chicago, St. Louis and Omaha. Our programs enlist teams of artists, architects, developers, educators, community activists, and residents who work together to integrate the arts, apprenticeship trade training and creative entrepreneurship into a community-driven process of neighborhood transformation.

Rebuild engages an artistic practice which uses as its medium the urban fabric of under-resourced districts, bridging the creation of art with adaptive reuse of abandoned spaces and community-driven initiatives for neighborhood revitalization.

Rebuild Foundation is the creation of Chicago native, artist, urban planner, and a Wall Street Journal 2012 Innovator of the Year, Theaster Gates, Jr. who has conducted innovative renovation of unused spaces and community service activities through his art practice since 2005. Rebuild received its official 501 status in December 2010, and immediately continued Gates work leveraging creative community resources to build thriving neighborhoods. We act as a catalyst in local economies by integrating arts and cultural programming, workforce enhancement, creative entrepreneurial investment, hands-on education, and artistic intervention. Rebuild began creating cultural programming in Gates' renovated and repurposed buildings first in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood of Chicago South Side. Next, Rebuild established operations in the Hyde Park neighborhood of St. Louis, activating two residential spaces of Gates'. Soon after, Rebuild entered a partnership with Beyond Housing to establish a programming hub from one of their neighborhood spaces in the north St. Louis community of Pagedale. Also in 2011, Rebuild began a partnership with the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha to activate a derelict bank building with renovation, arts programming, and the incubation of a local small business.</p><p class=\"p1\">Rebuild hosted the 2012 Bruner Loeb Forum. The Art of Placemaking\" conference and will break ground on the Dorchester Artist Housing Collaborative in 2013 with the Chicago Housing Authority, transforming an empty housing project into a 36-unit complex with mixed income housing and a community arts center for programming, performance, and arts exhibition.

Rebuild Foundation has received funding support from ArtPlace, Creative Capital Foundation, JB and MK Pritzker Foundation, Kanter Family Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Leveraging Investments in Creativity, W. Clement &amp; Jessie V. Stone Foundation, University of Chicago, and others.

Row House Community Development Corporation

Location: Houston, TX

Website: www.rowhousecdc.org

Row House CDCwas established in 2003 as a sister corporation to Project Row Houses (PRH) in direct response to PRH’s vision to “create community” in Houston’s Northern Third Ward. Row House CDC’s mission is to develop housing for low-to-moderate income residents, public spaces, and facilities to preserve and protect the historic character of the Third Ward.

However, our interests extend far beyond low-income housing, and include strengthening, sustaining and celebrating the life of the Third Ward community. Row House CDC’s target area is the northern section of Third Ward which is bounded by McGowen on the north, Alabama on the south, Scott on the east and Hwy 288 on the west.

The 74-acre district was developed in 1993 as a classical small-scale residential neighborhood, with a grid pattern of 35 blocks served by four major thoroughfares. Civic institutions own about 50% of the area land (38 of 74 acres) and include Riverside General Hospital, Ryan Middle School, Blackshear Elementary, numerous churches, Project Row Houses, and Row House CDC.

The remaining 220 lots are used for housing, small retail shops, or are vacant. Residential development includes classic bungalow architecture featuring pier and beam foundations, front porches, and clapboard siding.

The neighborhood includes major institutions, shops and stores; an indigenous musical heritage; churches, schools, parks; and a mix of historic homes, many of which are in the African-American “shotgun” style originally developed by freed slaves (and their descendants) over 100 years ago.

Row House CDC envisions creating a careful blend of homes, including restored historic residences and architecturally compatible new structures offered for rent and for sale. The community will be woven together with streetscape promenades and greenway pedestrian paths to identify and reinforce the historic and artistic character.

The Row House District will showcase the creative arts and a broad array of cultural and social programs. Working in tandem with current residents, institutional stakeholders, and philanthropies, Row House CDC will preserve and enhance the spirited character of this unique Houston neighborhood.


Location: Nationwide

Website: www.streetfilms.org

Streetfilms produces short films showing how smart transportation design and policy can result in better places to live, work and play.

Founded in 2006,Streetfilms has become the go-to organization for educational films about sustainable transportation, and inspires action and behavioral change worldwide. Individuals,public agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, and transportation advocacy groups use Streetfilms to educate decision makers and make change for livable streets in their communities.

Streetfilms are freely distributed online, and our nearly 500 videos have been viewed over 5 million times. Thousands of daily viewers watch Streetfilms on our site, through embeds on hundreds of other sites, social media, digital files and DVDs, film festivals, and community screenings.

OpenPlans a 501c3 non-profit orgaization. We are funded by foundation grants, sponsorships and advertising, and through generous donations from readers like you.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Location: International

Website: www.coursera.org/course/technicity

We are part of the 'TechniCity'. The increasing availability of networks, sensors and mobile technologies allows for new approaches to address the challenges that our cities face.
The way we understand cities is undergoing sweeping transformation, right along with the analytical tools we use to design our cities and the communication tools we use to engage people. Absorbing, studying and understanding the role of technology from a critical viewpoint allows us to generate creative ideas for improving our cities.

This course begins by examining how our cities are changing. We then jump into how technology is used to engage with the public to support decision-making.

This course is your salon, a gathering of people under the roof of inspiring hosts (your instructors), held partly to amuse each other and partly to refine our collective taste and increase the knowledge of the course participants through conversation.

We will have lecture videos varying in length of up to 20 minutes. Lecturers will be provided by the instructors.

These lectures contain 1-2 integrated quiz questions per video allowing all participants to gain a foundation of knowledge before diving into conversation.

There will be an active "virtual salon", our discussion forum, to engage participants in this course in conversation. We will also host "live" salons through a mix of google hangouts and onsite salons held at various locations based on where the instructors are located each week. Live tweet events will be held in a number of different languages, using #technicity. We will be using the virtual and live salons to engage in reasoned debate and polite conversation, while offering criticisms of current technology issues facing the world's cities.

We will be using a real-world public engagement platform to build community and sustain engagement. Participants in this course are encouraged to contribute their ideas, give feedback on others ideas and provide support for good ideas. Your hosts (instructors) will provide rewards for the best ideas and most meaningful contributions.

Students will complete assignments that build towards a final peer reviewed project about technology in your own city or region.

Students will be examining tools for analyzing the city. Then we move into exploring the infrastructure that makes the real-time, technologically-enhanced city possible. And rounding out the course is an exploration of entrepreneurial urbanism, looking at how creativity can spawn technological innovation. You'll hear from technological innovators and thought leaders about all of these topics. You can learn more as this course develops on Dr. Evans-Cowley’s blog.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Improv Everywhere

Location: International

Website: www.improveverywhere.com

Improv Everywhere is a New York City-based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places. Created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd. Improv Everywhere has executed over 100 missions involving tens of thousands of undercover agents.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Help Save Knowland Park!

Location: Oakland, CA

Website: www.saveknowland.org

Knowland Park is a 500-acre wildland park in the Oakland hills, deeded to the city in the 1970s under the condition that it would always remain a park. Located above the Oakland Zoo, which sits on a portion of the property, it is the largest and most pristine of Oakland’s parks, a thriving hotspot for rare native plants and wildlife. But it has never been listed on the city’s Parks website, despite repeated requests.

Thus its amazing natural resources remain relatively undiscovered by the public.

In 2011, the City approved a major “conservation” theme park expansion of the Oakland Zoo into more than 50 acres of sensitive wildlife and rare plant habitat in the undeveloped area of the park. The development would include an aerial gondola ride with 60-foot towers and a three-story ridgetop visitor center, restaurant and gift shop, all approved without a full Environmental Impact Report and over the protests of numerous environmental and citizens’ groups.

Two of these groups, the Friends of Knowland Park and the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, have filed a lawsuit aimed at forcing the City to complete a full environmental review as required under the California Environmental Quality Act.

A full EIR would require thorough consideration of other alternatives to this destructive and expensive project.

0ur goals are to save the park’s precious habitat for existing wildlife and to protect the remainder of Knowland Park from further development, specifically:

- Ensure preservation of the largest remaining piece of open space owned by the city of Oakland for wildlife habitat, native plants and free public access.

- Dissuade the Zoo from  its current ill-conceived expansion plan and work toward a more modest plan that serves an authentic conservation goal: preserving wildlife habitat.

- Reduce or mitigate traffic congestion, noise/light and air pollution impacts on surrounding communities and wildlife.

- Increase community awareness of the threats to open space and wildlife habitat in the South Bay hills and the relationships between the fight to protect Knowland Park and other community concerns.

- Require the City to complete a full Environmental Impact Report.

Terwilliger Center for Housing

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.uli.org/research/centers-initiatives/terwilliger-center-for-housing/

The ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing engages in a multifaceted program of work that includes research, publications, convenings, awards, and technical assistance. Our mission is to facilitate creating and sustaining a full spectrum of housing opportunities—including affordable and workforce housing—in communities across the country.

Established in 2007 with a gift from longtime ULI member and former ULI chairman J. Ronald Terwilliger, the Center’s initial mission was to expand workforce housing opportunities for families earning 60 to 120 percent of the area median income.

While the Center’s primary focus remains on housing affordability, with a particular emphasis on workforce housing policies and projects, our mission has expanded in 2011 to include a broader range of housing issues.

This expanded focus will help to integrate ULI’s many housing efforts into a coherent program of work that furthers the development of mixed-income, mixed-use communities and a full spectrum of housing affordable to all, a critical aspect of ULI’s core mission of the “responsible use of land.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stairway Walks of San Francisco

Location: San Francisco, CA

Website: www.sfstairwaywalks.weebly.com

Hundreds of stairways traverse San Francisco's 42 hills, exposing scenic vistas and linking diverse neighborhoods.

Recently released in its 6th edition, Stairway Walks in San Francisco has something for everyone, whether you want to explore a different San Francisco neighborhood, find an inspiring exercise route, or learn about the City's history and architecture.

The author, Adah Bakalinsky, is the queen of San Francisco's majestic, quirky, and quotidian stairways. Walker nonpareil and veteran guide, she explores the hidden corridors and cul-de-sacs of the city, charting neighborhood changes by gathering stories from residents, gardeners, and shopkeepers. She knows this city inside and out, from bottom to top, and most certainly like the backs of her...ummm...shoes.

You really should meet her sometime. So mark your calendars for the biggest stairways extravaganza of the year - May 5th San Francisco Stairway Day.

From Lands Ends to Eureka Valley, you'll be able to go on FREE walking tours with the City Guides of San Francisco (a project of the San Francisco Public Library), rub shoulders with Adah and other stairway-devotees, and undoubtedly discover a wholly new perspective of the city.

And don't leave your camera behind! To show off your skills, please join our group on Flickr,www.flickr.com/groups/stairwaywalks, where Wilderness Press will be hosting an ongoing photo contest. As Adah says, "Happy heeling, frisky footing, and merry walking!"


Location: Oakland, CA

Website: www.openoakland.org

OpenOakland, a Code for America Brigade, is a civic innovation organization that brings together coders, designers, data geeks, journalists, and city staff to collaborate on solutions to improve how our local government serves all citizens of Oakland.

We draw on our wide range of expertise and perspectives to build open-source applications and working relationships that promote civic innovation and open government in Oakland.

Our projects range from events like City Camp to Open Government Pledge, to a community-based open-data portal and OaklandWiki, to apps that help you chart crime trends, submit FOIA requests, adopt your local storm drain.

100 Resilient Coties

Location: International

Website: www.rockefellerfoundation.org/100-resilient-cities

As natural and man-made shocks and stresses grow in frequency, impact and scale, with the ability to ripple across systems and geographies, cities are largely unprepared to respond to, withstand, and bounce back from disasters.

With more than 75 percent of people expected to live in cities by 2050, public and private sector leaders are expressing an increasing desire to build greater resilience, yet many have neither the technical expertise nor the financial resources to create and execute resilience strategies on a city-wide scale, in a way that addresses the need of the poor or vulnerable people.

To enable 100 cities to better address major 21st century challenges, the Rockefeller Foundation is inviting cities from around the world to apply.

In August, cities can be nominated through a formal application process. Winning cities will be announced in three rounds over the next three years, with the final round of winners named in 2015.

Each winning city will receive:

- Membership in the 100 Resilient Cities Network which will provide support to member cities and share new knowledge and resilience best practices.

- Support to hire a Chief Resilience Officer to oversee the development of a resilience strategy for the city and be part of a learning network of other CROs.

- Support to create a resilience plan, along with tools and resources for implementation.

Now is the time for action to ensure our cities remain places of opportunity for the next 100 years.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Big Parade Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Website: www.bigparadela.tumblr.com

The Big Parade is a two-day walk in Los Angeles. It includes about 100 public stairways over 35 miles, from downtown to the Mt. Hollywood.

The walk runs on a timetable, and is designed as a series of attached loops, so that people can come and go as they please - join us for a mile, an hour, or an epic. Along the way, there's music, art, history, guest speakers, and lots of surprises.

The Big Parade is 100% free (except for the pizza...see below.) No donations (again, except for the pizza), no sponsors, no merchandise - just a walk with friends and neighbors.

Despite the length (and uphill nature) of the journey, the Big Parade is meant to live up to its name — an event whose primary purpose is to entertain. The route is filled with talks and performances from local figures, and historical insights into the city's configuration.

The parade's secondary mission is to encourage a sense of community. The parade keeps pace with the slowest walker; and is described as ua simple 'walk with neighbors.


Location: International

Website: www.citymart.com

Citymart.com is the result of a journey that started in 2003 as an initiative to promote cities as real-life laboratories for services in cities.

Living Labs Global was formed as a non-profit association in Denmark with the focus on building a global marketplace for innovations in cities.

Citymart.com was launched as a technology start-up in January 2011. Since November 2012, Citymart.com supersedes the Living Labs Global brand to be followed by the integration of both organizations into a single legal entity by May 2013.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

596 Acres

Location: New York, NY

Website: www.596acres.org

We build online organizing platforms for land access advocates and facilitators. In New York City we are land access advocates and use one of our platforms.

Hundreds of acres of vacant public land are hidden in plain sight behind chain-link fences in New York City, concentrated in neighborhoods disproportionately deprived of beneficial land uses.

We are building the tools for communities to open all these rusty fences and the opportunities within them to improve the areas they live in by:

- Making municipal information available online and on the ground (e.g. by placing signs on vacant public land that explain a lot’s status and steps that the community can take to be able to use this land.

- Providing education about city government and ways to participate in decisions that shape neighborhoods,

- Assisting communities with legal support and campaign-development on land use issues,

- Maintaining a network that allows communities to share knowledge and relationships with decision-makers, and

- Working with groups after they get access to land to build sustainable community governance as they become stewards of a public and inclusive resource; and

- Advocating for municipal agencies to increase participatory decision-making surrounding public resources.

T.R.U.S.T. South LA

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Website: www.trustsouthla.org

T.R.U.S.T South LA is a Community Land Trust established in November 2005 as a democratic and permanent steward of land, to challenge the role that speculators, absentee owners and corporations have played in deciding the neighborhoods’ future.

With grant and loan funds raised from public and private sources, the Land Trust acquires land to be held in perpetuity by the community-controlled Land Trust. The land will be leased for the development of affordable family housing and other community-serving uses.

Permanent control over the assets of the Land Trust is ensured by its legal structure as a membership organization, with Regular Members restricted to low-income people who live or work in the land trust area.

Our principles guide how we engage our community:

- Educate and develop our consciousness, skills, and experience individually and collectively. We take responsibility to understand the context of the community, and our environment and together create a strategic plan.

- Develop a new generation of leadership through sharing tools, knowledge and creating opportunities for youth. Intentionally take a step back to allow for youth and young adults to step in and take ownership of their learning and participation.

- Work together to create a local economy and a community that has control over the use of the land,

- Take responsibility to take care of the earth, minimize what we take from her, and help heal what has been harmed.

- Take responsibility to delegate work in an ethical and responsible manner. Share knowledge and skills with others.

- Maintain our minds and hearts open and have flexibility to adapt to changes. Be curious and experiment with new ideas.

- Maintain credibility through transparent structures of communication and access to information such as: decision making processes, resources, and funding.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Location: New York, NY

Website: www.urbanomnibus.net/2013/04/ideas-city-2013

IDEAS CITY is a biennial festival that explores the future of cities around the globe with the belief that arts and culture are essential to the vitality of urban centers, making them better places to live, work, and play.

Transforming downtown Manhattan, the festival showcases the creativity and dynamism of individuals, institutions and projects that explore or improve urban life.

IDEAS CITY was founded by the New Museum in 2011, and is organized in cooperation with an executive committee consisting of the Architectural League, Bowery Poetry Club, The Cooper Union, The Drawing Center, NYU Wagner, and Storefront for Art and Architecture.

This year, IDEAS CITY 2013 will take place from May 1-4 and will include the presentation of over 100 independent projects and public events.
br The theme of this year’s festival is Untapped Capital, an examination of under-recognized and underutilized resources that can be harnessed as catalysts for change.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Group Think

Location: International

Website: www.billmoyers.com/groupthink

We’ve all heard the famous, inspirational quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has."

Makes it sound so simple. But change rarely comes easily. It requires not just commitment, but also creativity and strategy. In this Group Think, successful activists share organizing tactics they’ve found to be effective in recent campaigns.

Urban Climate Lab

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.urbanclimate.gatech.edu

Georgia Tech's City Regional Planning Program who are exploring the connections between climate change and the built environment.

Through this website, we hope to highlight the range of mechanisms through which land use change, both within and outside of cities, is driving ongoing warming trends and impacting human and environmental health.

Globally, urbanized areas account for the majority of the human population but have received relatively little attention in climate change research. The UCL integrates expertise in the realms of environmental science, urban design, and public health to develop strategies to manage and counteract climate change at the urban scale.

Of particular interest to our research group is the influence of land use on observed warming trends in cities. Land use is contributing to climate change through two distinct mechanisms. First, land use change in the form of urbanization is associated with increased energy consumption and the emission of greenhouse gases, serving to enhance the global greenhouse effect. As detailed on the "Projects" page, our work has addressed the potential benefits of alternative land development strategies, such as "smart growth," for reductions in auto use and emissions of carbon dioxide. A second and more direct mechanism through which land use influences climate change is through the displacement of natural land covers, such as tree canopy cover, by building materials with a greater capacity to absorb, store, and reemit heat energy. In response to what we term the "green loss effect," our work finds large cities in the U.S. to be warming at more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole as a result of the loss of naturally vegetated land covers. Through several ongoing research effects, the UCL is measuring the success of alternative land development and urban design strategies in abating the pace of climate change in cities.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Town Square Initiative

Location: International

Website: www.gensleron.com/cities/

By 2050, nearly 70 percent of the world’s population—some 6.29 billion people—will live in cities, according to data from the United Nations. The pressure to create urban centres that facilitate healthy human social interaction is greater than ever. And it will grow ever more.

Our cities need to become better at what they do. They must provide comprehensive answers to help balance and foster our lifestyles on a global level. The time is now, and those of us who can have an obligation to contribute to—and even to instigate—dialogues on how to best achieve this.

Gensler is taking on this challenge by launching the Reimagining Cities campaign. Each year, our offices around the globe will explore one topic that defines modern cities and seek out, in the places Gensler calls home, ways to demonstrate innovative urban ideas.

Town Square Initiative was the inaugural effort for Reimagining Cities. The primary focus of this yearlong volunteer effort was to reconsider the public open spaces in cities and to explore how we can improve our social capacity through an improved physical urban environment.

We are only now understanding that so many past urban solutions have led us to dysfunctional spaces. How do we avoid replicating previous mistakes?

Mistakes, for example, in urban planning and development that sought to streamline a single aspect of infrastructure, such as automotive transportation, at the great expense of the most fundamental of tasks a city performs: bringing people together and enabling social exchange and physical interaction.

Today we know that we cannot afford to develop singular answers. Our challenges are multi-faceted, complex questions, and the answers must be equally ambidextrous. Our modern cities need to mirror our modern, multitasking lifestyles.

Today, cities in so-called developed countries are models for the development of cities across the developing world. And developing cities are growing at staggering rates.

As economies increase, aspirations of wealth and the associated lifestyles threaten to come at the expense of balanced, society-oriented urban development—much as they did in the developed cities, only now we are looking at much larger scales of intervention. Cities are growing into megalopolises, generating an entirely new set of challenges.

Even in the established urban centres across Europe and North America, shifting economies are beginning to grow and merge into significantly larger hubs of social and business activity.

We must therefore understand the challenges we face not only in developing countries, but also in our much admired so-called developed cities . When we look at these established urban centres, we discover fundamental flaws in how we utilise spaces and how we prioritise the use of these spaces.

The social functions of public spaces—however utilitarian they may appear to be—are not to be underestimated. The urban fabric is the physical seed bed of our increasingly urban societies. With the modernisation and globalisation of our societies, social structure, responsibility, and accountability seem to be ever more challenged.

Our urban public spaces—from streetscapes and waterfronts to parks, civic plazas, and the neighbourhoods we live in—need to contribute to our social awareness; our sense of social purpose and belonging.

From reconsidering the fundamentals of urban design as well as identifying missed opportunities, the Town Square Initiative seeks to recontextualise our existing cities' social environment by exploring innovative approaches and proposing straightforward, multifaceted, future-oriented solutions.

Over the last 12 months more than half of Gensler's offices worldwide engaged in this initiative to improve the urban environment. What we discovered is that despite the very specific and individual challenges different cities across the globe are facing, there are fundamental commonalities that begin to help us understand this effort as a global challenge.

In The Public Interest

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.inthepublicinterest.org

In the Public Interest is a comprehensive resource center on privatization and responsible contracting. It is committed to equipping citizens, public officials, advocacy groups, and researchers with the information, ideas, and other resources they need to ensure that public contracts with private entities are transparent, fair, well-managed, and effectively monitored, and that those contracts meet the long-term needs of communities.

The mission of the Resource Center is to provide:

- Accurate, high-quality information, across a variety of sectors and jurisdictions about trends and developments in privatization, the impacts of privatization on the public, and responsible contracting policies and practices.

- Tools and resources to help public officials, researchers, advocates, workers, and administrators ensure that essential public goods and services are available to those who need them, managed by people who are publicly accountable, and affordable to all.

In The Public Interest is a project of The Partnership For Working Families.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Location: Nationwide

Website: www.citycamp.com

CityCamp is an unconference focused on innovation for municipal governments and community organizations. As an unconference, content for CityCamp is not programmed for a passive audience. Instead, content is created and organized by participants and coordinated by facilitators.

Participants are expected to play active roles in sessions. This provides an excellent format for creative, open exchange geared toward action.

CityCamp is a series of events, first started in Chicago, focused on innovation for government and community organizations in our cities. Each CityCamp has four main goals:

- Bring together government officials, municipal employees, experts, programmers, designers, citizens and journalists to share perspectives and insights about the cities in which they live,

- Create or maintain government transparency and effective local governance using the web as a platform,

- Foster communities of practice and advocacy on the role of information and open data in cities, and

- Create outcomes that participants will act on during and after the event.

CityCamp explores and documents ideas, lessons learned and best practices that can be implemented within and shared across municipalities, anywhere in the world. Of particular interest is the use of social/participatory media, mobile devices, linked open data, and the idea of the “Web as a platform.”

CityCamp recognizes that local government, business, and community organizations have the most direct influence and impact on our daily lives. This event looks to connect local communities who are dedicated to design, process, and technology applications that make cities more open and “user friendly.”

Living Lab Global Awards

Location: International

Website: www.llga.org

LLGA was created in 2009 as an annual program that in past editions has brought together 42 global cities and 1,519 providers leading to more than 30 pilots, reaching 285 million citizens world wide through better investment decisions.

In the past three years, 38 global cities have awarded the technologies, services and products that best meet their strategic challenges through the Living Labs Global Award (LLGA2013). In this process, 1,117 solutions were evaluated by 248 jurors supporting the partner cities in shortlisting and selecting the winners. Our selection process involves dialogues with 350 global cities to identify the most committed cities to partner with LLGA2013.

Only solutions that already exist (including prototypes, pilots, pre-commercial solutions—i.e. those that are ready for pilot deployment within 6 months) are accepted.

Who can participate? Companies (large and small), entrepreneurs, innovators, groups, consortia, research centres, non-profit organizations.

Applications can only be submitted by completing a Showcase on Citymart.com. Submission deadline is 6 February 2013.

Submitted Citymart.com Showcases will be made public immediately unless you choose to wait and not go public until the submissions deadline on 6 February 2013 (23:59 UTC). Your Showcase should not include any confidential information.

If you are nominated to participate in Round 2 and you accept, you will be asked to submit a Questionnaire and Video for further evaluation of your solution. The Questionnaire will remain confidential permanently and the Video will be kept confidential among the Jury members until the winning solutions are announced at the Cities Dialogue Ceremony in San Francisco. During Round 2, members of the Jury team may contact you via a Citymart.com Conversation if they have any further questions.

Nominated solutions commit to implementing a pilot of limited scale and duration. Cities commit to provide full institutional support but are not bound to commit funding for pilots. You should not assume any financial support by the partner city for carrying out the pilot.
If you accept your nomination by a partner city, you are expected to attend the LLGA | Cities Summit on Service Innovation in Cities in May 2013.

There is no charge for solution providers to submit to LLGA2013 or to attend the LLGA | Cities Summit on Service Innovation in Cities; however, travel expenses must be covered by solution providers.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Aga Kahn Development Network

Location: international

Website: www.akdn.org

The agencies of the AKDN are private, international, non-denominational development organisations. They work to improve the welfare and prospects of people in the developing world, particularly in Asia and Africa, without regard to faith, origin or gender. Its programmes are designed to bring a critical mass of economic, social and cultural activities to bear on a given area.

Its projects encompass many of the determinants of the quality of life, including the natural and built environments in both urban and rural areas, food security, health, education, access to financial services and economic opportunity, as well as the cultural areas of traditional music, architecture and art. Some programmes, such as specific research, education and cultural programmes, span both the developed and developing worlds.

The AKDN works in 30 countries around the world. It employs approximately 80,000 people, the majority of whom are based in developing countries.

The AKDN’s annual budget for non-profit development activities in 2010 was approximately US$ 625 million. The project companies of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development generated revenues of US$ 2.3 billion in 2010 (all surpluses are reinvested in further development activities).

AKDN’s Approach to Development

Founded and guided by His Highness the Aga Khan, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) brings together a number of development agencies, institutions, and programmes that work primarily in the poorest parts of Asia and Africa. While each institution pursues its own mandate, all work together within the overarching framework of the Network so that their different pursuits interact and reinforce one another.

His Highness the Aga Khan, the founder and chairman of the AKDN, is the 49th hereditary Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. In Islam’s ethical tradition, religious leaders not only interpret the faith but also have a responsibility to help improve the quality of life in their community and in the societies amongst which they live. For His Highness the Aga Khan, this has meant a deep engagement with development for over 50 years through the agencies of the AKDN.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

City Atlas

Location: New York, NY

Website: www.newyork.thecityatlas.org

City Atlas is a New Yorker’s comprehensive guide to events, ideas and actions that are positively impacting and forming our city’s future.

We like to think of ourselves as a bottom-up sustainability plan for New York City that works best with your participation. The Atlas reflects the good work that individuals, organizations, businesses, cultural institutions, and everyone else (!) does to move our city toward a more sustainable version of itself. Basically, we aggregate a lot of good stuff and show you how some of our lived culture is already moving us in the right direction.

City Atlas is built by and for New Yorkers. And just like this city, it relies on science, creativity, and community.

Thank you for visiting, and we look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Friday, May 3, 2013

For The Bay

Location: S.F. Bay area, CA

Website: www.forthebay.org

The Bay. It's who we are. It's where we live. Where we work. Where we play. It's the very heart of our community — and after a century of decline, the Bay's survival depends on doing something, soon.

We're doing something now. We're launching an initiative to bring back a healthy and vibrant San Francisco Bay for today, tomorrow, and generations to come -- for people and wildlife, for jobs and play, and for our very way of life. We have just one question: Are you with us? If so (and why wouldn't you be?)...

For more than 50 years, Save The Bay has been the Bay’s leading champion. With the help of our supporters, we’ve kept our precious Bay from becoming a narrow, polluted channel, we’ve restored hundreds of acres of wetlands for people and wildlife, and we’ve worked with cities to curtail the flow of plastic bags and other trash into the Bay.

As a region, the Bay Area faces many challenges— from sea level rise to exploding population growth. But if we work together we have a unique opportunity to make a lasting impact on the health of the Bay and the health of our community. That’s why Save The Bay is launching a new initiative – For The Bay.

The Bay is the heart of our region’s vibrant economy and quality of life. It’s the reason some 8 million people have chosen to build their lives here. While we know Bay Area residents have a broad and deep appreciation for the Bay and an understanding of the need to protect and restore it for future generations, it’s easy to take this majestic body of water for granted as we go about our daily lives.

That’s why we’re launching For The Bay: to serve as a place where Bay Area residents from all walks of life and all backgrounds can come together to celebrate the Bay and advocate for its protection.

Being for the Bay isn’t just about protecting fish and wildlife. It’s about embracing the different ways in which we all interact with the Bay – whether that’s on a sailboat or a fishing trawler, taking BART under the tube, walking or biking along the hundreds of miles of shoreline trail, or even just marveling at the spectacular views the Bay provides us every day.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

[im]possible living

Location: International

Website: www.impossibleliving.com

Abandoned buildings are everywhere:
in city centers, suburbs, countrysides, mountains, seasides, everywhere!

They are left there, day after day, night after night. They don't scream, they don't bleed, they just lose a little piece everyday, so you don't really realize that a certain place is falling down, until one day it's impossible to recover it and the only thing that is left to do is breaking it down!!

How is our society managing these buildings?

Most of the time just ignoring them, preferring to leave them behind and build new buildings instead! This approach is cheaper in the short term, but definitely it is not in the long run.

There is an enormous power trapped in these ruins and [im]possible living is a project that aims to free this power up!! It won't be easy, but we want to try to reverse this trend and give a new life to these places!!

The steps in front of us are very challenging, but we are very excited about them:

- build a worldwide database of abandoned buildings,

- provide tools and knowledge to help our users start rescue projects,

- connect professionals to help on the design process, and

- fnd money to make these projects become real.

[im]possible living wants to be an enabler, a catalyst of the energies available in every place in the world that are not able to get through and give birth to the abandonment market and, in general, to a new housing development model: it is a very ambitious goal, but we really believe in it and we are investing everything in this dream!

Audi Urban Future Initiative


Website: www.sactree.com

The Audi Urban Future Initiative The Audi Urban Future Initiative is a forum for emerging ideas about the critical role of mobility in the twenty-first-century metropolis, a rapidly changing landscape of complex challenges and new opportunities.

The Audi Urban Future Initiative broadcasts a range of perspectives and explores innovative advancements, tracking and analyzing the trends of the day.

To reimagine urban mobility—to seek sustainable, accessible, equitable, and enjoyable ways to move from one place to another—is to reimagine the city.

The Audi Urban Future Initiative consists of the Award, Workshops, Research on the future of mobility in our cities and the Insight Team.


Location: Los Angeles, CA

Website: www.blacknla.org

When I started Black In Los Angeles (BlackNLA) in March of 2000, I did so to fulfill a personal need…the ability to find at “the drop of a hat” a African American physician, lawyer, black organization, or events that would be of interest to me and my friends. I found a lot of sites out there, but they were always a hit and miss.

Some would have businesses, some would have events but I didn’t want to have to remember 20 different web addresses, I wanted the information and I wanted to be able to get to it in a relatively easy manner. The Los Angeles area has a large black population but we tend to be scattered and divided by city and county lines, so with the start of a new millennium and its advancing technology now is the time to bring this community together.

So…Welcome to BlackNLA.com a web site where blacks living, working and visiting the Los Angeles metropolitan area can get information that pertains to their interests and lifestyles. A place to share information, resources, advertise and to network. BlackNLA will provide you with information on businesses, restaurants, local organizations, music and upcoming events.

BlackNLA is continually evolving as we improve our look as well as respond to the concerns and requests of the community. We look forward to expanding our efforts and in the future providing you with the following: Parents and Kids section, Senior living, Who’s Who in Los Angeles, Visitor Information and a expanded LA Community page.

Unlike many sites where decisions may be made in the boardroom, comments by users are welcome and invited. Many of the best recommendations have come from our web site visitors.