"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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Willamette River Initiative

Location: Oregon

Website: www.willametteinitiative.org

Home to two-thirds of the state's population and 75% of its economic output, the Willamette Basin is one of the defining features of Oregon.

The Willamette River is an important part of our history and our sense of place, and - because the river and its tributaries are located entirely within Oregon's boundaries - its destiny is largely in our hands.

Though its water quality has improved considerably since the 1960s, the Willamette faces an uncertain future. Many parts of the river exceed state standards for bacteria, temperature and mercury, and contamination from toxic pollutants is a growing concern. Important habitats and the species that depend on them have declined significantly.

The population of the Willamette Valley is expected to nearly double by 2050, placing additional pressure on the river and surrounding lands. The purpose of the Willamette River Initiative is to achieve meaningful, measurable improvements in the health of the Willamette River and selected tributaries by 2018 and to create a national model for effective philanthropic involvement in the restoration of large, complex ecological systems. Meyer Memorial Trust established the Willamette River Initiative in July 2008. Through WRI, the Trust makes grants to groups working to improve the health of the river and its tributaries and invests in the development of research and planning tools to help identify restoration priorities.

In 2009, MMT entered into a partnership with the Tides Center, a national fiscal sponsor organization, to support administration of WRI program activities. Through this partnership, grants associated with WRI are administered directly by MMT, while program management and communication activities are administered as a project of the Tides Center. We work with key partners to improve coordination of Willamette restoration efforts through shared goals, common measures of success, and joint learning and networking opportunities. Our closest working partnerships are with the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board -Bonneville Environmental Foundation. University of Oregon’s Environmental Sustainability Lab Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are also important partners, as are many other public agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

French Quarter Citizens

Location: New Orleans, LA

Website: www.frenchquartercitizens.org

FQC was founded in 1994 to strengthen the quality of residential life in the French Quarter. Not surprisingly, we focus much of our effort in this area. FQC is heavily engaged in the current efforts to write a new ordinance to control noise; we insist on simple, straightforward, and easily enforced rules that protect and promote the music — not noise — for which New Orleans is justly famous. Cleanliness and sanitation has declined recently.

FQC is helping lead an effort to identify and propose solutions to the challenges of keeping the French Quarter clean, having the trash collected on time, and reducing the number of trash containers littering our sidewalks. Other quality of life issues occupying our efforts and members include supporting the eradication of graffiti, promoting neighborhood consensus making Cabrini Park better for dogs and humans, strengthening controls on filming in the Quarter, making changes in parking regulations to favor residents, and getting the city to crack down on illegal short-term rentals that undermine the Quarter’s residential values.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Communites for a Better Emvironment

Location: California

Website: www.cbecal.org

Founded in 1978, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) is one of the preeminent environmental justice organizations in the nation.

The mission of CBE is to build people’s power in California’s communities of color and low income communities to achieve environmental health and justice by preventing and reducing pollution and building green, healthy and sustainable communities and environments.

CBE provides residents in blighted and heavily polluted urban communities in California with organizing skills, leadership training and legal, scientific and technical assistance, so that they can successfully confront threats to their health and well-being.

CBE’s vision embraces local transformation. But the CBE vision goes far beyond local as humanity now faces environmental crisis of global proportions.

The earth’s most vulnerable populations experience the greatest suffering from environmental degradation. Climate change has triggered deadly drought, water shortages and wildfires; air and water pollution threatens food supplies and ways of life. It’s the world environmental crisis can be solved only through a fundamental transformation of our society–from values based on profit-before-all to an approach based meeting people’s fundamental needs.

Lasting solutions happen from the ground up–with the participation and leadership of residents and workers most directly affected by pollution and environmental degradation. The struggle for environmental justice is intrinsic to movement for social justice–in the U.S. and throughout the world.

CBE envisions a society in which production and consumption are based on environmental and social sustainability, where it’s held as a basic human right to breathe clean air and drink clean water in the environment where we live, work, go to school, play, and pray—regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, culture, ability, nationality, or income.

Our Miami

Location: Miami, FL

Website: www.ourmiami.org

Our Miami is a project of The Miami Foundation developed in association with an important three-year study called Soul of the Community. 

Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Soul of the Community surveyed residents of metropolitan Miami (and 25 other cities nationwide) to explore and understand what residents like most about where they live and which factors play the biggest roles in connecting people to their place.

To evaluate these qualities in greater depth, The Miami Foundation partnered with the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University. FIU gathered data in each category to better understand the degree of alignment and/or variance between Miamians perceptions and reality.

The Miami Foundation asked, “What can we do to make our place, our city more attractive to an increasingly mobile and global society?

Armed with powerful new data, The Miami Foundation and its partners will use Our Miami to explore how Miamians can make improvements that will nurture a stronger sense of community and advance the quality of life for all area residents.

Our Miami coupled with the Beacon Council’s One Community | One Goal report augment years of national research that clearly shows attracting young, talented and creative people to your place will grow the economy faster than other more traditional measures of economic development and at the same time it fosters a deeper sense of community.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

California Alliance for Boys and Men of Color

Location: California

Website: www.allianceforbmoc.org

All Californians stand to benefit by doing everything possible to ensure that young men of color have the chance to grow up healthy, to get a good education, and to make positive contributions to their communities.

We will reap the rewards of this investment. Boys and young men of color can make our neighborhoods safer and stronger and they can work hard, innovate, and keep California competitive in the global economy. It’s time for California to renew its commitment to making sure that all young people have a fair shot to grow up healthy and successful.

The Alliance is working to ensure that California’s boys and young men of color:

- Live in safe neighborhoods,

- Succeed in school and work,and

- Possess the knowledge, skills, and leadership capacity to contribute to their families, communities, and the state’s social and economic well-being.

Working at the local and state level, the Alliance is actively pursuing reforms that will:

- Increase access to health services that recognize the strengths and assets of boys and young men of color while also responding to the trauma and chronic adversity that many face.

- Achieve 100 percent high-school graduation rates among boys and young men of color by strengthening the performance of public schools and reducing expulsion rates.

- Ensure boys and young men of color live in safe neighborhoods and can attend safe schools.

- Reduce the numbers of youth who enter the juvenile justice system and ensure that those who leave the system have the skills needed to succeed. and

- Increase access to the types of education and training that lead to meaningful employment.

With strong participation and leadership of youth, community and system players Alliance partners have launched campaigns in Oakland, Fresno, and Los Angeles. Each of these efforts is anchored by a local convener.

Urban Strategies Council

Location: Oakland, CA

Website: www.urbanstrategies.org

The Urban Strategies Council is a community building support and advocacy organization located in Oakland, California.

Founded as a non-profit in 1987, the Council works with stakeholders in low-income communities, community-based organizations, and public systems to expand services for children and families, improve health, educational, and other outcomes, and increase employment and economic opportunities

The focus of the Council's work is to support youth, family and community development as a means of building healthy, vibrant communities in order to reduce persistent poverty.

The Council is a community building support and advocacy organization. The Council's approach to its support work is focused on working community stakeholders to build strategies and capacities (including our own) for effective collective action.

We recognize that sustainable change involves not only building strategies and capacities, but also requires the exercise of leadership to build a common agenda for change that will improve outcomes for children and families.

The Council works to build partnerships and alliances across a wide array of community interests.  At the same time, the Council takes leadership in identifying issues that impact urban communities, building understanding of the issues and crafting agenda for addressing those issues.


Location: National

Website: www.elev8kids.org

Elev8 brings together schools, families and other community partners in low-income areas — to ensure that students succeed in middle school and beyond. Part of a growing movement of community schools around the country, 


- Extends learning opportunities for students beyond the classroom and traditional school year,

- Provides high-quality school-based health services to children and their families,

- Encourages parents to be actively involved in their children's education, and

- Offers family supports and resources designed to promote economic stability, good health and continuing education.

Individually, these components play a pivotal role in children's lives. Elev8 thoughtfully integrates them because we believe an approach that considers the whole child and their family will have the greatest impact.

We focus on the middle-grade-students because those years are a time of critical transition for young people. Elev8 aims to ensure that by the time students finish 8th grade, they are prepared for high school and go on to graduate.

Elev8 looks different in every participating school, as community members identify local needs and create solutions. Students and families become advocates for improving education and expanding access to critical resources in their community.

Keep Austin Weird Festival

Location: Austin, TX

Website: www.keepaustinweird.com

We all know there is NO city better than Austin. Therefore, this festival's philosophy is go big or go home.

What does this mean? This means Keep Austin Weird is one blowout party full of music, family activities and local vendors eager to reflect the creative nature of Austin.

Think of this festival as the ultimate toast to Austin, a toast to hospitality, fun and a sense of community.

No need to hide your kids or hide your wives (or husbands) as there are plenty of fun shenanigans for any Austinite in attendance.

California Tomorrow

Location: California

Website: www.californiatomorrow.org

California Tomorrow provides leadership, research, customized strategies and ongoing support to community organizations, schools, policymakers and advocates working toward a more equitable, inclusive, multicultural society. We help transform institutions so that they are better able to serve a broader, more diverse public.

California has become one of the most ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse societies of our time. 25 years ago, the state’s population was nearly two-thirds White; today in 2006 it is 55% people of color, and no single group holds an ethnic majority. Our state is rapidly leading where the rest of the nation will follow: into a rich and complex multicultural future – where our diversity offers great benefits and resources but also carries the enduring legacies of racism and inequity, and where both individuals and institutions need new skills and approaches if we are to ensure everyone in our communities has access to power, opportunity and the ability to thrive.

In 1984, California Tomorrow emerged as one of the first voices to call attention to this historic transformation and to embrace our society’s tremendous diversity as one of our greatest strengths.

More than twenty years later, the questions at the heart of our work are more important than ever: How can we create change to ensure economic equality, challenge oppression, expand opportunity, and advance social justice? How can we increase respect and understanding for all cultures and communities? How can we build strong vibrant relationships across lines of ethnicity, language and class? And how can we support communities to draw on the power of multiple perspectives and voices?

We find the answers in putting values like accountability, equity, inclusion and interdependence to work in public institutions, community organizations, and policymaking. Throughout the state and around the country, California Tomorrow engages directly with public schools, after school and youth programs, early childhood programs, community colleges, policymakers, community organizations and philanthropic foundations in multifaceted change efforts:

- We advance new paradigms for cross cultural interaction and partnership,

- We use data to shine light on disparities and call for the targeting of resources to the people and communities that need them the most.

- We use research to inspire hope – to share and show what equity-centered education, youth programming, community projects and policy initiatives look like.

- We provide technical assistance, training and tools to change the culture of organizations so that diverse cultures are valued and affirmed, multiple perspectives are included, equity becomes a top priority, and progress is measured over time.

- We put forth new models, new strategies, and new policy directions to bring about equity in our institutions and our society.

California Tomorrow has ceased operations as of. December 2010. This website remains an archive.

After a period of careful consideration and deep reflection by our board and staff, we have made the difficult decision that it is time for California Tomorrow to close its doors, effective at the end of this year.

There has been tremendous growth in the education reform and educational equity field over the past two-and-a-half decades, and we take great pride in blazing a trail for and providing support to the many exceptional organizations and practitioners who will continue the work California Tomorrow catalyzed.

Over the past several years we have seen shifts in funders’ priorities in the education field, and the continuing economic difficulties have impacted many funders’ assets causing them to pull back considerably on their grantmaking. Ultimately we concluded that it was simply not possible for California Tomorrow to secure the funding we need to continue with our core programs and the new work we hoped to be able to launch this year.

As we conclude our work, we wanted to make sure you’re aware of several important contributions California Tomorrow is making to the field this fall and over the last year (all of which are available on our website: www.californiatomorrow.org).

Our framework on English Learners in AfterSchool: Learning English & Beyond: A Holistic Approach for Supporting English Learners in After School, October 2009

California Community Colleges Access and Equity Issue Brief: How the Great Recession is Creating a Crisis of Equal Opportunity in California's Community Colleges, May 2010

California's Prospects: Reclaiming the Promise of Access and Equity in California's Community Colleges, October 2010

We also wanted to let you know about an additional toolkit that we have just released:an Equity-Driven Systems Change (ESC) Toolkit, designed for the Community College field but adaptable to the PreK-20 spectrum. This change management Toolkit provides strategies and support to implement many of the concepts shared in the Educational Equity Framework.

We strongly believe that each of these contributions will continue our work of shaping the field and moving the dialogue and practice around equity and social justice in education forward.

We also wanted to assure you that the people many of you have come to depend on for consultation and thought partnership will remain available as resources to the field:

Jhumpa Bhattacharya and Jimena Quiroga will carry on their work around robust approaches to supporting English Learners in Afterschool, equity and diversity, and student voice and leadership development, as independent consultants via the ThrivePoint Group. (They have also produced a accompanying Toolkit to support English Learner success in the Afterschool field.

Singhashri (Kica) Gazmuri will also be starting a consulting practice to support the Afterschool, Community College, and K-12 fields through equity-driven change management, strategic planning, training, and field-building.

Anne Price authored the two community college publications noted above and is a vital resource to the Community College field with her expertise on issues of equity, access, and inclusion.

Sheryl Petty will continue her work supporting the field to implement and translate the Equity Framework to various educational contexts. Her work will focus on sparking the formation of more alliances, networks, and bridge-building across typically disparate audiences in the education field. As part of this work, she is facilitating the development of the Transformational Educational Systems Alliance, which held their first meeting this month. Core leaders for the work have been convened to conceptualize how to move a transformative agenda in each of their respective spheres.

California Tomorrow has produced many important resources over the past two and a half decades, and we wanted to assure you that those resources will continue to be available to the field. Our website will be transformed into an archive of our work with materials there available free of charge. In addition, we are identifying organizations to house our archive of print resources. Information on where to find hard copies of our products will available on the website.

Over the last year of planning, we have drawn several critical conclusions about what’s needed in the field going forward, namely that: the field is in great need of more collaborative efforts that help link the best of equity-driven change agents and organizations across practitioners, policy advocates, organizers, educator preparation programs and professional development, technical assistance providers, researchers, and funders.

These worlds are too often fragmented in their analyses, approaches to change, and constituencies (among other areas). And yet if we are to become a cohesive, unified field of progressive change agents, we have to undo the forces that continue to have us vie for resources, positioning, and visibility. We must learn how to more deeply link arms and understand the unique perspectives and challenges of intentionally moving a transformative agenda from public discourse, to policy development, to practice/on-the-ground implementation.

This new frontier of functioning, deeper understanding, and mutual advocacy is critical for the survival of organizations and constituencies committed to social justice and building joyful, healthy, reflective, socially and economically prosperous, diverse communities. We must learn how to better leverage and support one another. This way of functioning more so in deep alliances, collaboratives, and movement-building structures may also be a new frontier for the funding world, in that the goals, objectives, avenues of action, and measures of success for such work may be less familiar, but also more catalytic towards radically improving our collective well-being. To the Future… While this has been an incredibly difficult decision to come to, we are confident that it is timely given the needs in the field, the funding landscape, and our capacity. And as we look forward to new horizons, we are proud of the work that we have accomplished on behalf of students, educators, and communities across the state and across the nation.

Everyone at California Tomorrow wishes to thank all the people who have made our work possible—our funders, former staff and board members, colleagues, community builders, educators, and students who so enriched our personal and professional lives. We are incredibly grateful for your passion for the work and for your inspiration in helping our communities, the state, and the country understand more deeply what it means to build a thriving, diverse, and just society.

PolicyLink / Equitable Development

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.policylink.org/site/c.lkIXLbMNJrE/b.5136575/k.39A1/Equitable_Development_Toolkit.htm

Equitable development is an approach to creating healthy, vibrant, communities of opportunity. Equitable outcomes come about when smart, intentional strategies are put in place to ensure that low-income communities and communities of color participate in and benefit from decisions that shape their neighborhoods and regions.

Affordable Housing:

Strong, vibrant neighborhoods provide a diverse mix of housing options. Use these strategies to ensure that existing residents can stay as neighborhood markets revive and to stabilize distressed neighborhoods.

Ensure access to good jobs and opportunities to save and build assets to increase community health and stability.

Where you live, work, and play has a major impact on health — and living in a distressed neighborhood contributes to health inequities. Implement these tools to reduce environmental risk and build health-promoting neighborhoods.

Use land use planning and economic development tools to:

- promote thriving neighborhood commercial districts that meet residents' needs for shops and services; ensure safe places to play, recreate and socialize, and

- promote environmental sustainability.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Strong Towns

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.strongtowns.org

The American approach to growth is causing economic stagnation and decline along with land use practices that force a dependency on public subsidies.

The inefficiencies of the current approach have left American towns financially insolvent, unable to pay even the maintenance costs of their basic infrastructure.

A new approach that accounts for the full cost of growth is needed to make our towns strong again.

The Strong Towns approach ultimately requires a reorientation of emphasis and a renewed understanding of what it takes to build a town or a neighborhood.

The current approach to growth emphasizes investments in new infrastructure to serve or induce new development. This approach uses public dollars inefficiently, destructively subsidizes one type of development over another and leaves massive maintenance liabilities to future generations.

A Strong Town approach emphasizes obtaining a higher return on existing infrastructure investments. We can no longer simply disregard old investments in favor of new, but instead we need to focus on making better use of that which we are already committed to publicly maintain.

Building a Strong Town is a complex, long-term endeavor. Much as a successful family balances their short-term spending needs with their long-term savings and financial commitments, so too must a Strong Town work towards long-term, balanced objectives,

A Strong Town...

1. Must be near-term financially solvent.

Can your town meet its near-term financial obligations? Is your town deferring needed maintenance, bypassing key investments or dramatically raising revenue in order to balance its budget? Is your town seeking new growth as a way to pay for current financial imbalances?

2. Must have the tax base and resources to cover long-term financial commitments.

Have the public investments that have been made in your town's infrastructure resulted in private-sector investments that can financially sustain the maintenance of that infrastructure? Is your town reliant on government transfer payments or extreme amounts of debt to pay for maintenance of basic infrastructure systems? Does your town have a capital improvements plan that accounts for the maintenance and replacement of all infrastructure systems?

3. Must have sufficient age diversity so that population will be added at a rate greater than population is being lost.

Is your town positioned to sustain its population a generation into the future, especially if it is planning to borrow for major infrastructure with a long payback cycle? When looking a generation to the future, is your town positioned to grow leaders from within the community or will tomorrow's leaders need to be imported? Is your population too young to sustain efforts to support the elderly? Is your population too old to have broad support for educating children and funding parks?

4. Must have sufficient economic diversity and vibrancy so that businesses are being added at a rate greater than or equal to the rate they are being lost.

Is your community dependent on one business or industry for the bulk of employment opportunities? Are there opportunities, locations, access to capital and a local support system for entrepreneurs that want to start businesses? Does your town actively engage in succession-planning, where successful local businesses can be passed from generation to generation? Does your town misuse tax subsidies to drive inefficient development patterns or fund non-viable endeavors? Does your town allow for creative destruction, where non-competitive businesses are allowed to fail in a competitive, free market.

5. Must have the courage and leadership to plan for long-term viability.

Does your town have a long-term plan for success? Do the leaders in your community understand that plan and embrace it? Are short-term decisions made through the prism of the long-term viability of the community? Are the members of the town engaged in a broad and comprehensive way in the planning of the community?

To make your town a Strong Town, begin today by reorienting to meet these five benchmarks. For some concepts for how to build a Strong Town, be sure and read our Placemaking Principles.

Informal City Dialogues

Location: International

Website: www.nextcity.org/informalcity

The Informal City Dialogues is a year-long project supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and conducted by Forum for the Future. It homes in on six cities - Accra, Bangkok, Chennai, Lima, Manila and Nairobi,

In each of these cities, it aims to foster a conversation about the informal urban realm, and how it can be cultivated and harnessed for the benefit of all.

These informal realms, from single-chair barbershops to nine-passenger vans to sprawling settlements, are propelling the explosive growth of the urban Global South. They are the neighborhoods, economies and systems that exist beyond the reach of government: the slums, black-market industries and undocumented businesses that fuel these cities’ growth. They’re split off from the formal city, and often neglected or harassed by local authorities, and yet the informal aspects of these places are also intricately intertwined with the formal. Indeed, many residents have one foot in both worlds: the slum dweller who commutes to her job at a major hospital, the unlicensed microbus driver who lives in a condominium highrise.

They are the neighborhoods, economies and systems that exist beyond the reach of government: the slums, black-market industries and undocumented businesses that fuel these cities’ growth. They’re split off from the formal city, and often neglected or harassed by local authorities. And yet the informal aspects of these places are also intricately intertwined with the formal. Indeed, many residents have one foot in both worlds: the slum dweller who commutes to her job at a major hospital, the unlicensed microbus driver who lives in a condominium highrise.

The Informal City Dialogues will begin a local and international conversation on these issues, in which stakeholders will imagine and create narratives for their urban future. A series of workshops will bring together such stakeholders in each of the six cities, who will participate in a wider dialogue around these narratives with the goal of inspiring positive change in their communities and institutions.

These writers will chronicle not only the project’s workshops, but also report from the street and talk to the people who participate in this remarkable urban dynamic on a daily basis. Their everyday lives tell the story of the informal city, and are the primary sources for what this project hopes to achieve: a more inclusive conversation around urban informality.

Informal City Dialogues will begin a local and international conversation on these issues, in which stakeholders will imagine and create narratives for their urban future.

A series of workshops will bring together such stakeholders in each of the six cities, who will participate in a wider dialogue around these narratives with the goal of inspiring positive change in their communities and institutions.

Over the course of this project, Next City will tell these people’s stories.

We have embedded a writer in each of the six cities who will blog about the intersection of formal and informal for the duration of the project. These writers will chronicle not only the project’s workshops, but also report from the street and talk to the people who participate in this remarkable urban dynamic on a daily basis.

Their everyday lives tell the story of the informal city, and are the primary sources for what this project hopes to achieve: a more inclusive conversation around urban informality.

Global Street Art

Location: International

Website: www.globalstreetart.com

Global Street Art is a very small team, two of us based in London, and two working remotely. Over the course of our lives we want to build a permanent, museum dedicated to street art and graffiti - both online and in bricks and mortar. Yep, seriously.

We’re starting our journey by building a global photographic archive of street art online. Over the past few years, somewhat obsessively, we’ve taken around 50,000 graffiti and street art photos in some 20 countries!

We’ll soon start putting lots of photos online, coupled with interviews with artists and writers, many of whom we’ve had the pleasure to meet in person, and many more who’s walls we’ve stood in front of in awe.

We think the World is slowly starting to wake up to the relevance of art outside. Its an expression, a discussion about how we use public space and, of course, the largest participant art movement in history. Over the past decade the public has become more accepting of both graffiti and street art even the authorities are starting to work more with artists. To us this suggests the future will be painted.

There is a huge informal community of bloggers and photographers following and supporting graffiti and street art and an even larger community of casual fans of both graffiti and/or street art.

This website is dedicated to artists, the photographers who document them and the fans who support them. We’re huge geeks are working feverishly on building online platforms and tools to help the street art community. We will be involving our community in the development of these tools. Exciting times!

Check out our walls project based in London, where we’re finding new spaces for artists to paint. Let’s up the amount of art in our cities!

If you’re an artist or photographer and you’re interested in contributing, or if you’d just like to say hello or give us some suggestions then you can email us at: dudes@globalstreetart.com. You can also like or follow us on Facebook.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Walk Score

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.walkscore.com

Walk Score's mission is to promote walkable neighborhoods. Walkable neighborhoods are one of the simplest and best solutions for the environment, our health, and our economy.

Our vision is for every property listing to read: Beds: 3 Baths: 2 Walk Score: 84.

We want to make it easy for people to evaluate walkability and transportation when choosing where to live.

Walk Score Professional, which makes it easy to integrate Walk Score into other websites. We also provide Walk Score data to researchers.

We have multiple patents pending on our scoring and search technologies. We show over 10 million scores every day and over 20,000 sites use Walk Score services. Walk Score has been featured in hundreds of newspaper articles and TV segments.

The Walk Score advisory board includes urban planning, environmental and technical experts from institutions such as the Sightline Institute and the Brookings Institution.

Transport for All

Location: London, England

Website: www.transportforall.org.uk

As an organisation of disabled and older people we have always been determined to ensure that the grass roots experiences and opinions of service users are always heard by those who commission and run the transport network.

We are and will always be run by older and disabled people – all our trustees are disabled or older transport users, or care for someone who is.

TfA was formerly known as Dial-A-Ride and Taxicard users (DaRT) and was formed through the amalgamation of the user groups of these two services. Over the years, our remit has widened to reflect the fact that more and more of London’s transport network is being ‘unlocked’ for disabled people to use.

There is no doubt that the tireless work of decades of disabled transport campaigners has yielded many victories – but much more has yet to be done to get the affordable, reliable, and accessible transport network that those early campaigners dreamed about.

Our work at TfA has grown over the years to encompass the changes that have been won. From an office in Brixton, our small team of staff and volunteers offer a unique pan-London service – funded by London Councils and supporter donations.

From Blue Badges to Freedom Passes, and from accessible buses to the DLR – we have been working hard to ensure that disabled and older Londoners have the information they need to get from A to B.

TfA’s work with the Community transport sector is an important milestone in our development. CT schemes are providing an important accessible transport service in many local communities – and we hope to work with the Community Transport sector in increasing its profile and working to make it more robust through a specialised training programme.

After the Olympics and Paralympic Games in 2012, we very much see our role as working with the capital’s disabled and older communities and accessible transport providers towards a legacy for the London transport network that meets the needs of all of its citizens.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

LA River Revitalization Corp.

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Website: www.larivercorp.com

The LA River Corp will change the course of LA. Our objective is to create healthy, vibrant communities with greater open space, enhanced green infrastructure, and better recreational facilities.

We are a non-profit venture charged with catalyzing responsible real estate and related economic development along the LA River.

Our mission is to transform the LA River to improve people’s lives by carrying out sustainable land use projects, advocacy for river friendly policy, and programs for community benefit.

We are working to create a continuous 51-mile greenway corridor that will run along a restored LA River. Think of it as a linear Central Park—a grand public space that will redefine how we move through Los Angeles.

The LA River can connect people throughout Los Angeles, restore natural habitat in some of the most park-poor communities in the country, and leave an open space legacy for generations to come.

We can enhance the quality of life in a city hungry for green space and strengthen communities by restoring the LA River to a vibrant green corridor that people from throughout the country will want to visit and enjoy.

Fund 4 Democratic Communities

Location: Southeast States

Website: www.f4dc.org

F4DC was founded in 2007 and since then has made over $1 million in grants to support grassroots democratic organizing efforts, primarily focused in the Southeast, North Carolina and Greensboro.

We operate with a strong belief in the power of ordinary people in neighborhoods, workplaces and other communities to understand and solve their own problems when given an opportunity to put their heads together and hear the diverse voices of all involved.

The Fund for Democratic Communities (F4DC), a Greensboro, North Carolina based private foundation, supports community-based initiatives and institutions that foster authentic democracy to make communities better places to live.

F4DC makes grants to groups that engage in participatory democracy to further their social change objectives; convenes groups and individuals committed to social and economic justice through deepening democratic practice; conducts research; and and produces materials to nurture the growth of authentic democracy.

In order to build communities that are democratic, just and sustainable, we need businesses that are rooted in their place and responsive to the communities they serve. We are working with people across the Southeast growing new economies based on these principles through the development of cooperative structures.

The economic crisis sparked by the collapse of large financial institutions beginning in 2007-2008 clarified for many that the fundamentally anti-democratic nature of our economic system threatens our communities in direct, immediate and potentially catastrophic ways.

We will never achieve a truly democratic society so long as our collective wealth is unavailable to the vast majority of us. This enormous wealth should be used to develop communities that allow and encourage every human being to achieve their full potential with dignity. Our societal wealth should provide security in the knowledge that our health, safety and a reasonable quality of life are guaranteed.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Midtown Detroit, Inc.

Location: Detroit, MI

Website: www.midtowndetroitinc.org

Midtown Detroit, Inc. is a vital force in the success of Midtown’s revitalization; helping to promote community property.

Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization created to support and enhance community and economic development in the Midtown area through collaboration and partnerships with key stakeholders and supportive funders. MDI is the result of a collaborative merger between the University Cultural Center Association and the New Center Council, whose organizations had a similar mission and a focus on real estate development, economic development, and the preservation of the districts’ history. Both prior organizations have been responsible for a remarkable number of successful community initiatives that have encouraged new housing development, increased visitorship to area attractions, supported new and increased commercial activity, and expedited infrastructure improvements to revitalize the greater Midtown district.

MDI will continue to be a major catalyst in supporting the involvement of core neighborhood and community organizations in addressing the social and economic needs of the Midtown district. Midtown’s revitalization has been successful due to collaboration and committed participation of the area’s arts, culture, academic, medical and service institutions; corporations; government; property and business owners; community and neighborhood organizations; and partnerships with private, philanthropic and public entities. Nearly 150 member organizations and more than 300 representatives from these organizations actively participate in MDI activities through committees that have been responsible for the completion and/or ongoing operation of over 30 programs and projects in the Midtown district.

A vital force in the success of Midtown’s revitalization is MDI’s ongoing community improvement initiatives include maintaining the aesthetic value of local public spaces; providing walkable passage to area attractions and businesses; championing new construction; encouraging reinvestment; preserving our heritage through restoration and renovation of the area’s buildings and homes; and enhancing awareness and appreciation of the area through marketing and special events. These initiatives have successfully positioned the region as a sustainable urban center that is a vibrant, diverse, and desirable destination.

he area is also home to exceptional art, culture, education, and medical establishments. MDI has created appealing walkable access to these venues and area stores, which promotes increased visitorship in addition to providing easy and attractive passage for the community. These walkable greenways provide additional open green spaces and enhanced safety features creating an inviting environment and contributing to the many reasons Midtown has experienced a surge in population growth.

The increased appeal of Midtown and the corresponding rise in residency have generated a need for additional mixed-income and mixed-use residential development. The need has spurred reinvestment, new construction and renovation of existing buildings and homes, and an increase in businesses, services, and entertainment all placed in close proximity to its residents, workforce, and visitors, making the area more desirable, improving the quality of life, revitalizing the community and creating economic stability.

Midtown is home to the largest concentration of cultural, educational and medical institutions in Southeast Michigan. The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Public Library, C. H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Historical Museum, Wayne State University, College for Creative Studies, Detroit Medical Center, Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall, Masonic Temple, Wayne State University Research and Technology Park (TechTown) and the Henry Ford Hospital campus are all based in the Midtown district. Midtown establishments host two million visitors annually and the area has a daytime population of fifty thousand. Midtown boasts 2 radio stations, its own symphony, 2 historic inns, 10 theaters, 7 museums, over 30 restaurants, 13 galleries, 2 radio stations, 2 hardware stores, 2 dry cleaners, an organic bakery, fresh markets, a gourmet farmers market and a multitude of other services and shopping destinations in addition to ongoing activities and events - all within 2.8 square miles, making the area one of the best walkable communities in Detroit.

Midtown is one of the fastest developing areas in Detroit with a growing residential base and many opportunities for new construction and rehabilitation as well as restoration within its many historic neighborhoods. Midtown’s largest population is comprised of persons between the ages of 25-44 in addition to a considerable number of seniors, a growing moderate-to middle-income component, and a significant concentration of low-income residents.

Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI) is a nonprofit planning and development organization that supports the physical maintenance and revitalization of the Midtown Detroit area, while working to enhance public awareness, appreciation and use of the district.

With the 2011 merger of the University Cultural Center Association and New Center Council, MDI assumed the initiatives and programs of an expanded geographic footprint incorporating both the Midtown Detroit and the New Center areas. Midtown Detroit is bordered by the Edsel Ford Freeway (I-94) to the north, the Fisher Freeway (I-75) to the south, the Lodge freeway (M-10) on the west, and Chrysler Freeway (I-75) on the east. The additional New Center area is just west of the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Grand Boulevard, and is approximately bounded by Virginia Park Historic District on the north, the Ford Freeway (I-94) on the south, John R on the east and the Lodge Freeway (M-10), including the Henry Ford Hospital campus on the west.

The unique character and resources of Midtown Detroit inspired the leaders of Wayne State University, the College for Creative Studies, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Engineering Society of Detroit to form Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MID) affiliate the University Cultural Center Association (UCCA) which was created in 1976.

In 1987, after an internal review of the organization's mission, changes were implemented including Board of Directors restructuring, expanded membership, progressive dues structure, and access to greater resources to initiate new and expanded projects. 

In 1995, the Board of Directors developed a strategic plan that focused on the area’s growth and associated needs.  Priorities that were identified include expanded parking capacity; area maintenance and beautification; area-wide directional signage; and the creation of a forum where members of the police department and public safety collaborated to ensure a safe district.

Since 2000, UCCA, an affiliate of MDI, has played a significant role in the community and economic development of the Midtown district. MDI and its affiliate, UCCA, have raised over $55 million for a variety of initiatives. While all are important, some of the most notable include the restoration and conversion of six historic homes into a boutique hotel; the Midtown Greenway; the Woodward Avenue Streetscape Enhancement project; the creation of the Sugar Hill Arts District; the construction of two community gardens; the renovation of over twenty commercial facades throughout the district, and increased security and safety via a Security Matching Grant program for property and businesses owners. In addition, the organization has also facilitated funding for over 30 residential developments resulting in over 700 new units of housing and has assisted over 20 local businesses with technical assistance and financing.

Most recently, MDI has implemented a number of new anchor institution initiatives such as “Live Midtown” and “Buy Detroit” programs. To date, over 200 employees have been approved for the Live Midtown residential incentive program and anchor institutions have begun to purchase from a number of local businesses in the areas of food, recycling, waste removal, and facilities maintenance.

MDI also developed a successful comprehensive communication and marketing campaign to increase awareness of Midtown’s numerous qualities, stimulate population growth, and attract new business to the area. The campaign advertises housing options; connects people to Midtown museums, theatres, galleries, restaurants, and retail stores; and promotes local cultural events including MDI’s two signature events – Art X Detroit and Noel Night.

In 2010, the City of Detroit was selected to participate in the Living Cities Integration Initiative, with MDI as the lead applicant. Through the Integration Initiative, Detroit is eligible for up to $22 million in grants, commercial loans and Program-Related Investments (PRIs) to support its efforts. The funding will help stabilize the Midtown area, adjacent North End neighborhood, and New Center area, through blight reduction, the productive re-use of land and buildings, and the improvement of key neighborhoods, providing access to improved educational, employment, and small business opportunities.

In early 2011, Midtown Detroit, Inc. was formally approved with the merger of UCCA and New Center Council.

The organization has expanded its staff and geographic footprint, increased its real estate investment activities and is implementing additional programs. This new footprint incorporates TechTown and the New Center area which will allow the organization to work more closely with the Henry Ford Health System, University Preparatory Schools, College for Creative Studies, TechTown, and many other anchors.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Greenbelt Alliance

Location: SF Bay Area, CA

Website: www.greenbelt.org

The Bay Area has the best of everything – stunning natural beauty, vibrant cities and neighborhoods, bountiful farms, and a diversity of cultural and economic opportunities. The challenge is how the region handles growth. We have a choice – to create wonderful cities and towns or to spread ever outward, agricultural landscape from development – the hills that offer stunning views, the valleys and streams that provide clean water, the farms and ranches that give us fresh, local food. We help create great cities and neighborhoods – healthy places where people can walk and bike, communities with parks and shops, transportation options, and homes that are affordable. Together these amazing places drive the Bay Area’s economic vitality and quality of life.

At Greenbelt Alliance we believe in collaboration. We bring together residents and decision-makers, business leaders, labor unions and others to find innovative solutions to our region’s growth challenges. We work both regionally and locally, blending expertise with on-the-ground action to help people explore our great region, make their neighborhoods thrive and save treasured landscapes from sprawl.

The places that make the Bay Area special are incredibly diverse, which is why Greenbelt Alliance’s work takes many forms, from saving farms in Santa Clara County and wildlife habitat in Sonoma County to revitaliziing commercial strips in Silicon Valley and Oakland. For more than 50 years, we have succeeded in helping to shape the amazing places of the Bay Area.

At Greenbelt Alliance, we bring people together around the places that matter to them. We envision a future where the Bay Area’s natural and agricultural landscapes that provide so much are protected and nurtured. We envision a future where everyone – regardless of their socioeconomic status – can live in a neighborhood they are proud to call home.

Greenbelt Alliance is the champion of the places that make the Bay Area special. We defend the Bay Area’s natural and agricultural landscape from development – the hills that offer stunning views, the valleys and streams that provide clean water, the farms and ranches that give us fresh, local food.

We help create great cities and neighborhoods – healthy places where people can walk and bike, communities with parks and shops, transportation options, and homes that are affordable. Together these amazing places drive the Bay Area’s economic vitality and quality of life.

At Greenbelt Alliance we believe in collaboration. We bring together residents and decision-makers, business leaders, labor unions and others to find innovative solutions to our region’s growth challenges.

We work both regionally and locally, blending expertise with on-the-ground action to help people explore our great region, make their neighborhoods thrive and save treasured landscapes from sprawl.

We envision a future where everyone – regardless of their socioeconomic status – can live in a neighborhood they are proud to call home.

Greenbelt Alliance’s mission is to make the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area a better place to live by protecting the region’s greenbelt and improving the livability of its cities and towns. We work through public policy development, advocacy and education, in partnership with diverse coalitions.

Grow Smart Bay Area is Greenbelt Alliance’s vision for the region to become more climate-friendly, affordable, and economically competitive, while protecting our farms, forests, and watersheds. By 2035, we call for:

- Fully protecting the Bay Area’s three million-acre greenbelt,

- Directing all new development into already urbanized areas, and

- Accomplishing both in a way that equitably benefits all Bay Area residents.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Municipal Art Society

OLocation: New York, NY

Website: www.mas.org

The Municipal Art Society is New York’s leading organization dedicated to creating a more livable city.

For 120 years, MAS—a nonprofit membership organization—has been committed to promoting New York City’s economic vitality, cultural vibrancy, environmental sustainability and social diversity. 

Working to protect the best of New York’s existing landscape, from landmarks and historic districts to public open spaces, MAS encourages visionary design, planning and architecture that promote resilience and the livability of New York.

Founded in 1893, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) has helped create a more livable city by advocating for the quality of the built environment through excellence in urban planning, design, preservation and placemaking through the arts.

From saving Grand Central Terminal and the lights of Times Square to establishing groundbreaking land-use and preservation laws that have become national models, 

MAS is at the forefront of New York’s most important campaigns to promote our city’s economic vitality, cultural vibrancy, environmental sustainability and social diversity. MAS is a convener of ideas and an advocate for solutions aimed at achieving a high quality of life in all of New York’s communities. 

We strive to ensure that the city’s leadership fully debates New York’s prospects for improved livability and includes the public in the discussion.

MAS has played a critical role in the creation of the New York City Planning Commission, Design Commission and Landmarks Preservation Commission; and served as incubator for such civic organizations as the Public Art Fund, New York Landmarks Conservancy, Historic Districts Council, Park Avenue Armory and the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance.

Significant milestones:

1893: MAS is founded to beautify New York City parks and public buildings with murals and sculptures financed by membership dues. 

1902: New York’s first major tree-planting campaign, the “Block Beautiful” movement, begins as a private MAS initiative. 

1908: As New York City’s y burgeons, MAS advocates for the construction of public housing, increased services for poor residents and more public bathhouses.

1916: MAS advocacy allows political reformers to win approval of the landmark Zoning Resolution of 1916. 

1920s: MAS helps defeat proposals by Major John Hylan to build the IND subway within Central Park and the Music and Art Center on its south edge. 

1930s: MAS urges construction of Rockefeller Center, an unpopular, pro-Modernist position at the time. 

1938: After decades of advocacy by MAS, New York City establishes a permanent City Planning Commission under its new City Charter. 

1955: MAS fights to defeat the demolition of Tweed Courthouse, near City Hall. 

1956: MAS begins to curate architectural walking tours of New York City, a key tool for our preservation and advocacy efforts. 

1961: MAS organizes a successful public campaign to save the Jefferson Market Courthouse in Greenwich Village. 

1973: MAS helps win passage of New York City’s Landmarks Law, substantially broadening the powers of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. 

1978: The MAS campaign to save Grand Central Terminal, led by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, is victorious when the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirms the constitutionality of the Landmarks Law. 

1979: When Radio City Music Hall is threatened with demolition, MAS fights to block construction of an office building on the site. 

1980: As Lever House is threatened with demolition, MAS helps designate it a landmark, saving the first New York City modern landmark. 

1980: MAS campaigns successfully to achieve landmark status for the historic theaters of Times Square, and ensure that all new development includes illuminated signage. 

1987: MAS begins its popular Adopt-A-Monument effort to rescue public sculptures from deterioration, which was augmented by the Adopt-A-Mural project in 1991. 

1991: MAS establishes a training program to assist community groups seeking guidance on planning, land use, zoning and development issues. 

1999: MAS partners with New York City to sponsor an international design competition for the future reclamation of the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. 

2001: MAS, with Creative Time, leads the creation of Tribute in Light, a memorial to the victims of September 11. MAS also organizes Imagine New York to ensure that the public’s ideas concerning reconstruction in Lower Manhattan are heard. 

 2006: Following six years of coalition building and advocacy that includes successfully championing a waterfront committee of the City Council, MAS launches the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance as a new organization. 

2007: With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, MAS presents the ground-breaking exhibition and public program series, Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York. 

2009: MAS generates new ideas for the future of Coney Island through ImagineConey, a series of public forums and online submissions. 

2010: MAS releases its inaugural MAS Survey on Livability at the first annual MAS Summit for New York City, bringing together top urban academics and thought-leaders to identify the most significant challenges to the city’s future. With the Preservation and Climate Change Campaign, 

MAS emerges as a leading voice promoting the link between historic preservation and energy efficiency, convincing City leaders to include preservation as a goal of its sustainability PlaNYC 2030. 

MAS launches a campaign to preserve the Garment District, one of our city’s last industrial and entrepreneurial hubs. Construction begins on Moynihan Station, a project MAS has long championed, 

Based on ideas generated through a community charrette, MAS publishes design guidelines for a new waterfront park on the East Side of Midtown Manhattan. 

MAS launches an energy demonstration project at the Henry Street Settlement to show how historic buildings can become more energy efficient without significant aesthetic changes or large capital outlays. 

MAS partners with Community Solutions to examine public housing in Brownsville, Brooklyn. 

MAS convenes a broad group of city-wide stakeholders to plan for a holistic approach to the future of East Midtown’s public realm and built form at the time of Grand Central Terminal’s centennial. Drawing on over a decade of research, 

MAS launches an advocacy campaign to better activate the City’s 525 privately owned public spaces. In partnership with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, 

MAS publishes Greening New York City’s Historic Buildings, a manual to help property owners and managers improve the energy efficiency of small historic buildings without impacting their character. 

With the support of the City’s three public library systems, MAS launches Libraries  as Community Anchors, a feasibility study and advocacy campaign to better promote branch libraries as vital neighborhood resources in 21st century New York.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Center for Urban Pedagogy


Website: www.welcometocup.org

The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) is a nonprofit organization that uses design and art to improve civic engagement.

CUP projects demystify the urban policy and planning issues that impact our communities, so that more individuals can better participate in shaping them. We believe that increasing understanding of how these systems work is the first step to better and more diverse community participation. CUP projects are collaborations of art and design professionals, community-based advocates and policymakers, and our staff. Together we take on complex issues—from the juvenile justice system to zoning law to food access—and break them down into simple, accessible, visual explanations.

The tools we create are used by organizers and educators all over New York City and beyond to help their constituents better advocate for their own community needs.

CUP takes two approaches to improving public engagement through civic education:

- youth education programs in which students work with teaching artists to investigate some aspect of how the city works and create final products that educate others about what they learned; and

- community education programs that bring together designers and advocates to produce tools, workshops, and publications that explain complex policies or processes for specific audiences.

Community Education works with advocacy organizations, policy experts, and designers to produce publications, workshops, and other teaching tools that explain important policy issues for the people who most need to know.

CUP publications and teaching tools are made for and with specific groups in specific places, but they reach a national audience of people interested in civics education and graphic and information design.

CUP’s Envisioning Development Toolkits are workshops built around interactive tools that teach people about basic land-use terms and concepts, enabling them to participate meaningfully in neighborhood change.

For example, the Affordable Housing Toolkit teaches participants about income demographics and the technical definitions of affordable housing to help them analyze proposed developments in concrete terms of units, rents, and incomes. The toolkits are developed in close collaboration with community organizations throughout New York, such as Good Old Lower East Side, the Fifth Avenue Committee, the Municipal Arts Society, and Tenants and Neighbors.

Making Policy Public series facilitates close collaborations between policy experts and design professionals to produce foldout posters that make complex policy issues accessible. For example, The Cargo Chain helped 10,000 longshoremen understand their place in the global shipping network, and is also a bestseller at art and design bookstores in New York. Collaborators have included designers like Candy Chang, Alice Chung of Omnivore, and Thumb Design with organizations such as the Brennan Center for Justice, Community Voices Heard, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Through our Technical Assistance program, community organizations and advocacy groups can hire CUP to create custom outreach and organizing tools. For example, we are working with the Participatory Budgeting Project and Community Voices Heard, along with designer Glen Cummings, to produce outreach and educational materials, as well as maps and ballots for a citywide effort to engage public participation in City Council budget decision making.

Youth Education partners with schools and after school programs to produce experiential, project-based curricula that get students out of the classroom to interact with New York City and the people who make it work. Our education programs vary in length from one day to one semester and reach over 500 students each year – from the Bronx to South Brooklyn and everywhere in between.

Urban Investigations projects ask basic questions about how the city works and answer them over the course of a semester. Where does our garbage go? Where does our water come from? Who built public housing? Students make site visits and conduct interviews while working with artists, designers, and staff to produce award-winning videos, exhibitions, magazines, and other media that communicate what they’ve learned to a wide audience. These products are screened in theaters, exhibited at museums, and used by advocacy organizations to educate others.

For example, the Sewer in a Suitcase, a working model of a city streetscape and combined sewer system developed by CUPwith students from City-as-School, has been featured on the Design Observer website and at the Proteus Gowanus gallery, and is currently being used by educators at organizations like The Harbor School and the Lower East Side Ecology Center to teach people about wastewater management and combined sewer overflow. CUP projects are in-class and after school, project-based curricula for high school students, from semester-long projects to single-session workshops.

For example,CUP recently developed a curriculum with a teacher at the Academy of Urban Planning in Bushwick to help students understand how to use information graphics in their persuasive writing. After conducting an on-the-street survey on a proposed soft drink tax, students created their own figures, charts, and graphs to help them develop arguments for or against the tax.

We also provide Teacher Trainings, professional development workshops for teachers and administrators that help educators connect students to their communities through art and design. We develop custom programs to meet the needs of a particular group, from a two-hour site assessment project to a week-long set of workshops.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Location: Los Angeles, CA

Website: www.eastsiderla.com

The Eastsider is Jesus Sanchez, a journalist with more than 25 years of experience in newspapers and online journalism. Sanchez was born in Boyle Heights and raised in East Los Angeles and later, the west San Gabriel Valley. He has called Echo Park home for more than 20 years. Unless otherwise noted, stories, photos and other content appearing on The Eastsider were created by Sanchez.

Is this a personal blog, online newspaper or community forum?

The Eastsider is a hybrid of news, occasional opinion, observations and links to other web sites, all curated for an Eastside audience. The Eastsider also calls upon some trustworthy and talented contributors for stories, photographs and other content. The blog published its first post on July 28, 2008.

The Eastsider Forums, community message and discussion boards devoted to specific issues.

What does The Eastsider cover?

The Eastsider is most interested in his own neighborhood – Echo Park – but also strives to cover news & stories from these neighborhoods: Angeleno Heights, Atwater Village, Boyle Heights, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, East Los Angeles, Echo Park, El Sereno, Elysian Heights, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Hermon, Highland Park, Historic Filipinotown, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Monterey Hills, Mt. Washington, Northeast LA, Silver Lake and Solano Canyon. Readers can click on the neighborhood names found in the middle column on the web site’s front page.  There is way more neighborhood news than The Eastsider can cover on his own. Tips, story ideas and other contributions are always welcome.

Local Support Initiatives Corporation

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.lsic.org

Founded in late 1979, LISC is the largest community development support organization in the country.

For almost three decades, LISC has connected local organizations and community leaders with resources to revitalize neighborhoods and improve quality of life.

The LISC model assembles private and public resources and directs it to locally-defined priorities.

Our unique structure enables local organizations to access national resources and expertise and our funding partners to leverage their investment and achieve an impact that is truly remarkable.

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is dedicated to helping community residents transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities of choice and opportunity — good places to work, do business and raise children. LISC mobilizes corporate, government and philanthropic support to provide local community development organizations with loans, grants and equity investments as well as local, statewide and national policy support technical and management assistance,

LISC is a national organization with a community focus. Our program staff are based in every city and many of the rural areas where LISC-supported community development takes shape. In collaboration with local community development groups, LISC staff help identify priorities and challenges, delivering the most appropriate support to meet local needs.

Building Sustainable Communities by achieving five goals:

- Expanding Investment in Housing and Other Real Estate

- Increasing Family Income and Wealth

- Stimulating Economic Development

- Improving Access to Quality Education

- Supporting Healthy Environments and Lifestyles

Institute for Transportation and Development Policy

Location: International

Website: www.itdp.org

Transportation is at the heart of many of the most pressing issues facing the world today - from climate change to public health. Yet, many people regard transportation as little more than a means to an end. In fact, transport networks are the pulse of a city, defining livability and urban space. Decisions about whether to build highways or bus corridors or greenways have tremendous impact not only on the air we breathe and the price we way to get around, but also on the health of our planet.

Air pollution comes from many different sources such as factories, power plants, but one of the largest sources is from motor vehicles. The transportation sector is an enormous contributor of CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable transportation planning and policy is crucial in reducing emissions and avoiding catastrophic global warming. One key aspect of poverty alleviation is working to increase mobility for all residents. Access to safe and affordable transportation enables greater economic opportunities and quality of life.

Road accidents cause staggering numbers of deaths and injuries, especially in the developing world. Most of those affected are pedestrians and cyclists in incidents that could be avoided with improved planning and policy.

The proportion of the world population living in cities is increasing at an unprecedented rate. In order to avoid crippling congestion and emissions, cities must adapt with sustainable transportation and integrated urban planning.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mount Vernon Triangle CID

Location: Washington,D.C.

Website: www.mountvernontriangle.org

The Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District is a private, nonprofit organization established to enhance the overall quality of life for residents, visitors, employees, and property owners in Washington DC’s newest 24-hour neighborhood by providing a clean and safe environment, marketing, and fostering planning and economic development.

The vision for the MVTCID is to develop Mount Vernon Triangle as a new neighborhood on the east end of Downtown DC with new residences, Class-A offices, and fine places to shop, dine, and enjoy this vibrant mixed-us community that is active day and night.

The ingredients for making Mount Vernon Triangle the next great neighborhood are:

- People: a diverse and energetic group, eager to be part of this emerging community.

- Space: a lively mix of residential, retail, and office uses.

- Design: outstanding architecture, historic places, public art, open space, and plazas.

- Retail: restaurants, shops, services, theatres, museums, convention center, and an arena nearby.

Transportation: Metro, Downtown Circulator, Amtrak, MARC Train, and easy access to 395.

- Partnerships: an innovative public- collaboration.

A Community Improvement District is a designated geographic area in which the property owners have agreed to pay a supplementary real property tax in order to raise funds for designated programs or projects, such as to augment street cleaning services provided by the City.

Under District law, the Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District (MVTCID) is legally defined as a BID. The concept of a Community Improvement District is based on that of a Business Improvement District, but includes commercial and residential properties.

BIDs have proven to be successful in hundred of cities throughout the United States and eight BIDs have now been established in the District of Columbia: Downtown BID, Golden Triangle BID, Georgetown Partnership, Capitol Hill BID, Adams Morgan Partnership, Mount Vernon Triangle CID, NoMa BID, and now the Capitol Riverfront BID.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Urban Observatory

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.urbanobservatory.org

Richard Saul Wurman, Radical Media, and Esri bring you the Urban Observatory—a live museum with a data pulse.

You'll have access to rich datasets for cities around the world that let you simultaneously view answers to the most important questions impacting today's global cities—and you.

Compare and contrast visualized information for a greater understanding of life in the 21st century.

You have the opportunity to join a first–of–its kind virtual experience that takes advantage of GIS as an integrative platform. Information about urbanization does not exist in comparative form. Several cities have already signed on to participate. By contributing, you empower your citizens, constituents, colleagues, and the global community.

The creative and technical forces at Radical Media and Esri build you a one–of–a–kind, futuristic virtual experience that's complete art and science. You’ll make your data come to life using an interactive exhibit complete with the finest software, hardware, fiber optics, custom kiosks, quality sound system and monitors.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Website: www.laforum.org

Founded in January of 1987, the Forum has organized lecture series and site visits to significant buildings and sites throughout Los Angeles and the region; hosted a number of special events, symposia and a theory reading group; held several design competitions; distributed a quarterly newsletter and online articles; produced many publications, including Experimental Architecture in Los Angeles (Rizzoli International) and Everyday Urbanism (Monacelli Press), as well as national-distributed pamphlet-sized books.

The Forum has worked with other groups, architects and institutions to understand its community and participate in activities to rebuild it.

Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design provides a framework for design professionals and members of the general public to explore, evaluate, and impact the development of architecture in Los Angeles.

Throughout its 20+ years of operation, the Forum has brought together young designers, seasoned professionals, critics, urban theorists, artists, students, and people interested in their physical environment in a diverse series of activities.

The Forum seeks to reach out beyond the confines of professional organizations, schools and established groups and does not limit itself to one approach to design or theory.

It provokes discussion, seeks out places and designs unseen or unnoticed by the general public, publicizes architectural investigation and commentary, and promotes the serious exploration of strategies to influence the development of our urban environment.

Financial support for LA Forum projects has been received from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the California Arts Council, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Woodbury University School of Architecture, and from many members over the years.

The Forum is widely recognized as one of the most active architecture and urban design groups in Southern California.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cube Cities

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.cubecities.com

Welcome to Cube Cities! We are a geospatial visualization platform for urban data, currently focused on commercial real estate.

Our data visualization products provide solutions in four areas and are supported by the Cube Cities API, a technology development program featured on our blog.

Cube Cities owns technology that is patent-pending in Europe and every modern country with major urban areas:

- Commercial Real Estate Listing Service:

Office and retail space marketing on Cubecities.com provides commercial market participants with precise 3D listings services, automatic tours (flights) and lead generation.

- Real Estate Market Reporting:

High resolution market reports that show the future, current, and historical market conditions. Cube Cities builds commercial real estate reporting services that can report client data in 25 major cities.

- Local Government and Urban Planning Products:

Communicate development projects to stakeholders using the familiar ease of Google Earth.

- White Label Web Services:

Public and private visualization solutions to showcase real estate data with custom branding.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Location: Chicago, IL

Website: www.seepotentialchicago.org

SEEPOTENTIAL is a public art and community engagement project. We install large-scale documentary photographs to visualize community-driven development plans for Chicago's South Side and to tally the community support for each idea.

Our primary goal is to enable residents, community leaders, and elected officials to visualize the potential for sustainable, locally owned community development and to mobilize community support behind great ideas.
We've created a text messaging infrastructure and online mapping system to record and visualize the support at each SEEPOTENTIAL site,

Our community partners then use this data to launch their idea to the next level. For example, the data can be presented to banks to help convince them to give loans, or to local government to ensure support from elected officials.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Capitol Riverfront

Location: Washington, DC area

Website: www.capitolriverfront.org

The river and its renewal are at the heart of the Capitol Riverfront, offering impressive vistas and unique opportunities for recreation and waterfront living. Rising from the foundations of its 19th-century heritage as a shipbuilding and maritime powerhouse, the Front today is leading the way in riverfront renewal and green innovation.

Here green is more than a color—it is a commitment evident in sustainable development, environmentally conscious businesses, mass transit access, walkability, and active public parks.

The Capitol Riverfront has 30+ LEED certified existing or planned buildings, the largest green roof in DC on the U.S. DOT building, the first LEED certified ballpark, a LEED Neighborhood Development project at The Yards, the largest LEED for homes project in the country at Capitol Quarter, four new parks including Canal Park designed to be a model of sustainability, and streetscape built with larger tree boxes and permeable pavers to collect storm water run-off and increase the green canopy. The parks are one of the most unique features of the Capitol Riverfront with Diamond Teague Park completed in 2009, the Yards Park on the riverfront completed in 2010 and Canal Park completed in 2012.

Unwind or recharge with nature in the Capitol Riverfront, a place for an active and healthy lifestyle. The 20-mile riverwalk trail will be a pedestrian/bicycle promenade with spectacular views of the river and the city’s skyline. With four new public parks and piers for boat docking, the Front will provide a variety of river access, open space, and recreational amenities.

Cleaning the river is a task that will take years to complete but is already underway and progress continues to be made. While 83% of the Anacostia River's Watershed is in the state of Maryland, the District with DC Water have begun their "Clean Rivers Project" which upon completion will eliminate 98% of the pollution resulting from an inadequate combined sewer overflow (CSO) system in DC.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Nature Sacred

Location: Washington, DC area

Website: www.naturesacred.org

In an increasingly urbanized world, we are bound to find a better connection with ourselves in nature than with our WiFi networks. That is the idea that drives Tom Stoner, founder of the TKF Foundation, who along with his wife and colleagues have funded dozens of restorative green spaces throughout the Washington-Baltimore area via their Nature Sacred program.

The foundation recently announced $4.5 million in new grants for six projects, where “scientists from a number of different disciplines – neuroscience, immunology, genomics, and others – will work to study the effects of specially designed spaces on people living in an urban environment or who are otherwise under stress. Grant winners will study the impacts of a range of projects: from a landscaped refuge at a Maryland hospital to a verdant retreat in Brooklyn's Naval Cemetery, and a healing environ for tornado-devastated Joplin, Missouri.

Stoner's take on the word “sacred” is not meant to be religious. He suggests "it is a sense that these spaces are important, intimate. It’s about our individual, personal relationship with nature.

Stoner thinks that quantitative proof of the health benefits of well-designed green space could go a long way toward encouraging better funding of the kind of places that we need to maintain our physical and mental health in a rapidly urbanizing world.

Cities, in a counterintuitive way, are more sustainable settlements that provide housing for thousands or millions of people, as high-density centers offer energy efficient smaller homes, transit systems, and concentrations of services. Yet life in cities can be stressful, and residents can feel removed from nature, the wellspring of all that sustains us.

Research of the past few decades provides evidence of how nearby nature is essential for human habitat. Nature offers restorative settings and experiences, including sacred encounters.

A luminous sunset or a glimpse of the tracery of tree branches are just a few of the nature encounters that can instill a sense of calm, contemplation, or inspiration.

On a trip to England in 1995, Tom and Kitty Stoner visited an urban park tucked in the midst of a busy London neighborhood. This serene and protected park was used by many as a place of refuge during World War II. Wooden benches lined the walking path. On the back of many of the benches were the reflections of those who experienced a sense of community and solace in this special place during the worst days of WWII.

It was Tom and Kitty’s belief that if an urban greenspace could provide such a place of sanctuary at such a difficult time in history, perhaps places conceived and created by urban communities in our time could also provide opportunities for reflection and rejuvenation. From this idea – and with this desire – the TKF Foundation was formed. The speed, violence and alienation that characterize our current period in human history create an important need for open spaces, sacred places. It is the Foundation’s hope that the spaces it has helped to support bring some peace and well being to people’s lives.

In 2010, the TKF Foundation began the final decade of its philanthropy with a National Open Spaces Sacred Places Award Initiative designed to support the creation of significant new Open Spaces Sacred Places across the country. These sites will serve as demonstration and research sites for the study of the impact of nature on the human spirit.

The mission of the TKF Foundation is to provide the opportunity for a deeper human experience by inspiring and supporting the creation of public greenspaces that offer temporary sanctuary, encourage reflection, provide solace and engender peace and well being. We envision a world in which opportunities abound for all individuals to experience peace and well being through a personal connection to nature and spirit.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Intelligent Community Forum

Location: International

Website: www.intelligentcommunity.org

Intelligent Communities are those which have – whether through crisis or foresight – come to understand the enormous challenges of the Broadband Economy, and have taken conscious steps to create an economy capable of prospering in it. They are not necessarily big cities or famous technology hubs. They are located in developing nations as well as industrialized ones, suburbs as well as cities, the hinterland as well as the coast.

The good news is that, while the Broadband Economy presents an epic challenge to communities, it also hands them a powerful new competitive tool. Beginning in the 1990s, carriers deployed the local networks that most of us think of as "broadband" – DSL, cable, satellite and wireless – within neighborhoods, towns and cities. At the same time, the costs of computer software and hardware – especially data storage – plummeted in obedience to Gordon Moore's famous law that the storage capacity of microchips doubles every 18 months. Through local broadband, individuals, small businesses, institutions and local governments have gained access to worldwide information resources and a broad range of tools to connect both globally and locally.

Today, broadband offers every community the opportunity to move from the periphery to the center in economic terms. It creates new kinds of companies like Yahoo and Google, even whole new industries. It enables small companies to be global exporters – including the export of skills and knowledge which were never before transportable across time zones or national borders.

It can ensure that schools in remote regions and inner cities have access to the latest information tools and reference sources.  It can link rural healthcare providers to leading medical centers and local law enforcement to national information grids. Individuals and businesses can go global in search of low-cost, quality vendors, and Web-based tools can increase community involvement.

By boosting the economic and social well-being of communities, broadband can reduce the incentives for their young people to move away in search of opportunity and a better quality of life. Paradoxically, it can play a key role in giving communities a sustainable future in our ever-more-connected world.

But broadband alone, technology alone, are not enough to create a prosperous and inclusive economy, which is the foundation for everything else that makes a community healthy and vital. Not in an environment in which broadband has put your community into direct competition with every similar community on earth, as well as opening up new opportunities for trade and collaboration.

Intelligent Communities work long and hard to adapt to the challenges of the Broadband Economy. Some are recovering from economic crisis and have more plans and hopes than tangible results to show. Others are well on the way toward ambitious goals and have a record of achievement to display. Some far-sighted communities never let crisis overtake them in the first place, but made the right choices and investments in time to benefit from the emergence of the Broadband Economy.

Communities that go through our Awards process tell us two things about it. They tell us that it was a lot of work to assemble and present the information we require. And they tell us that it was one of the best things they have ever done for their communities.

The application for the Intelligent Community Awards gave them the motivation to bring together stakeholders from government, business and institutions. It drove conversations that had never occurred before - about common goals, shared dreams and collaboration across organizational boundaries. It gave them a framework for thinking about their future in a way that let them overcome inertia and take action.

TimeBank Santa Criz

Location: Santa Cruz, CA

Website: www.santacruz.timebanks.org

The mission of TimeBank Santa Cruz is to build community resilience by trading services hour for hour among our members.

Our intention is to strengthen our community's resilience by creating a network of service exchanges wherein members share skills, talents, work and time. This network will improve our present quality of life and prepare us for challenges in a changing economy.

TimeBank Santa Cruz is a mutually supportive social network designed to create trust and meaning in our lives through the exchange of our time, skills and talents.

TimeBanking is not a marketing platform for businesses. It is not appropriate to offer services with the intention of reaping paid employment from the interaction. TimeBanking does not deal in commodities or capital. TimeBanking is not a barter system.

Five Core Values:

- Every person in the community has the capacity to contribute to the wellbeing of other members of the community. We all have something to offer.

- Those who carry out truly essential tasks (such as raising healthy children, keeping communities safe, and caring for others) need to be validated and rewarded.

- We need each other. Giving and receiving are the basic building blocks of positive social relationships and healthy communities.

- Belonging to a mutually supportive and secure social network infuses our lives with meaning and creates opportunities to build trust in one another.

Respect entails accountability. Responsible behavior fosters accountability and promotes social justice.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Location: California

Website: www.transform.org

TransForm started as a coalition of environmental, social equity, and community groups to bring a smart growth vision to life in the Bay Area. We continue to create innovate local models in the Bay Area and are working to promote smarter regional planning throughout California.

Since 2009, TransForm has also engaged in state policy, and from our Sacramento office we are leading advocacy efforts to reform state transportation policy.

Our successes in reshaping regional planning and winning billions of dollars for public transportation, walking and bicycling and affordable homes have been recognized and emulated throughout the nation. Today, we continue to build on our success in the Bay Area and are leading a statewide movement to transform transportation. Billions of dollars for California’s public transportation has been redirected for other uses over the past decade. For almost four years, TransForm has worked from its Sacramento office to provide a consistent voice for the urgent need for sustainable and equitable state transportation policies.

TransForm will host the second California Transportation Choices Summit and Advocacy Day on April 22-24. Hundreds of advocates and organizations will unite to share information and develop strategies for maximizing the impact of our movement. Our top 2013 priority is to get a funding commitment for sustainable transportation and land use from the State’s new Cap and Trade program. Another focus is reducing the voter threshold to 55% for measures that implement Sustainable Communities Strategies and have overall benefits for low-income communities.

The State is facing critical, cross-cutting growth issues such as the disbanding of redevelopment agencies, loss of affordable housing funds, and continued regulatory barriers to transit-oriented development issues. But many of our closest partners have not worked together on state policy. The State is facing critical, cross-cutting growth issues such as the disbanding of redevelopment agencies, loss of affordable housing funds, and continued regulatory barriers to transit-oriented development issues. But many of our closest partners have not worked together on state policy.

TransForm and ClimatePlan are bringing groups together to identify common ground, build relationships, and identify solutions such as developing new funding sources for transit-oriented development that includes affordable housing. ClimatePlan’s state policy group will continue to take the lead in making sure the Air Resources Board’s review of Sustainable Communities Strategies holds regions accountable.
TransForm will partner with allies to ensure the new law prioritizes bicycle safety.

TransForm and ClimatePlan are bringing groups together to identify common ground, build relationships, and identify solutions such as developing new funding sources for transit-oriented development that includes affordable housing. ClimatePlan’s state policy group will continue to take the lead in making sure the Air Resources Board’s review of Sustainable Communities Strategies holds regions to a high standard.

In 2012, TransForm joined with California Pan-Ethnic Health Network to sponsor and pass AB 441. The law requires the State to identify transportation projects and programs that improve public health and health equity and include that in the next update of Regional Transportation Plan guidelines. TransForm is seeking partners and funding to create an on-line,dynamic tool called for our 2012 report, this tool will document successful strategies across California,with updated case studies, measurable outcomes, and more. This can help inform state policy, and create a template of programs for when the guidelines are next updated.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Future Proofing Cities

Location: International

Website: www.futureproofingcities.com

A major new report ‘Future Proofing Cities’ has been published by Atkins in a unique partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID) and University College London (UCL).

This report assesses the risks to cities from climate hazards, resource scarcities, and damage to ecosystems and how they can act now to future proof themselves. Covering 129 cities totalling 350 million people in 20 countries, this report identifies practical measures that cities can take to now manage these future risks.

Around 75% of the world’s population will live in cities within 40 years. Almost all of this population growth will happen in the developing world, with 4.6 billion people projected to live in already rapidly growing cities.

How will these cities in the developing world cope socially, environmentally and economically with such accelerated urbanization

Future Proofing Cities assesses the risks from mega cities like Bangkok to smaller cities such as Zaria in Africa. It looks at their risk profile from climate hazards, resource scarcities, and damage to ecosystems and urges action now to future proof against these risks.

This report provides a fresh approach to the urgent issues arising from rapid urbanization. It assesses the environmental risks facing cities in an integrated way and identifies more than 100 practical policy options that are most relevant and will be of most benefit to people living in different types of cities.

The report is set against a growing awareness of the need for increased funding for infrastructure development in developing countries at the city level.