"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.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Barcelona Urban Lab

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Website: www.urbanretailinstitute.com

One of the aims of the "22@Barcelona" municipal company is to consolidate Barcelona’s role as an innovative city and to foster innovation in its business fabric.

BARCELONA URBAN LAB was created under this framework as a specific line of action to foster use of the city as an urban laboratory. Through this project, the city is made available to companies with innovative projects to test their infrastructures and services for the future in a real environment.

Urban Lab is a tool to facilitate the use of public spaces in the city of Barcelona to carry out tests and pilot programs on products and services with an urban impact, which are in the pre-market stage and in line with the Barcelona City Council’s aims, priorities and lines of action.

Urban Lab acts as a gateway to the City Council and facilitates internal coordination among the different areas. The form detailing the pilot proposal is presented to the Urban Lab Board, made up of members that are directly responsible for different areas of action (such as urban-planning, mobility, environment, etc.) and this group approves or rejects implementation of the plan.

Urban Lab allows for the creation of pilot programs but is not a tool to sell products that already exist on the market. In fact, the pilot programs are funded by the companies themselves and this is not a funding tool for innovative projects. Furthermore, carrying out a pilot program doesn’t imply any commitment on behalf of the Barcelona City Council to implement the solution tested in the long term.

The pilot programs must demonstrate an express need to use public spaces, the city streets. Other types of products/services will not be admitted into this project.

Urban Lab isn’t a showroom for products or services currently available on the market or that are being marketed. This project seeks out innovative solutions to unresolved needs.

The pilot programs must meet the Barcelona City Council’s real needs and must have a direct impact on the functioning of the city or on the services provided by the City Council itself, benefiting residents.

To foster business innovation through 22@Barcelona, the innovation district.

To reduce time to market for companies through pilot programs and, if these demonstrate their value, to allow them to then market their product or service on a large scale in Barcelona or any other city in the world.

To learn and create new products or services than can bring improvements to Barcelona’s residents.

Better products, better solutions, and better municipal services.

Test space and testing in a real environment to facilitate market access and increase business competitiveness.

This is a powerful technology-transfer tool on both a local and international scale.

A tool to facilitate the introduction of new solutions (ongoing improvement).


Location: Nationwide

Website: www.walkyourcity.org

In 1960, 1:4 citizens took one useful, 10 minute walk each day. Now that number is 1:10.

More people live in cities now than ever before. What makes a place more or less walkable is determined by the choices you have to walk somewhere useful as part of your everyday routine. Walkability is becoming a major factor in how we, both citizens and cities, are shaping our future communities.

Take ownership of your streets, improve or share the walkability of your street.

Walk [Your City] empowers you to promote walkability in your community by creating, producing and installing pedestrian wayfinding signage. Signage that is consistent communication and organization of navigational cues from our surrounding environment (i.e. directional signage to get aroundBuild a sign!

Walking builds the local sense of community and helps citizens become more engaged.

Our platform helps community groups, schools and non-profits become neighborhood advocates by making it easy for you to promote walkability.

Interested community group?

Contact us to get more info or go ahead and build a sign.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Flint Public Art Project

Location: Flint, MI

Website: www.flintpublicartproject.com

We organize workshops and temporary installations to inspire residents to reimagine the city, reclaim vacant and underutilized buildings and lots, and use innovative tools to steer Flint's long-range planning.

We support collaboration among local residents and organizations as well as with leading artists, architects, planners and community organizers from around the world, connecting Flint to regional, national and global movements to revitalize neighborhoods and cities through art and design.

We will document and amplify the many ways local residents, businesses and institutions are transforming Flint and its public image and identity, and will broadcast this new story to audiences throughout the city and the world.

Executive Director Stephen Zacks is an internationally recognized architecture and urbanism reporter, theorist and cultural producer based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and a native of Flint, Michigan. Co-founder of the Bring to Light–Nuit Blanche New York festival, he is currently writing Beautiful Ruin: The Generation that Transformed New York, 1967-1986,a nonfiction narrative about New York during the mid-70s fiscal crisis

Director of Programs Jerome Chou is an urban planner and landscape architect. Previously he was Director of Programs for the Design Trust for Public Space, where he led projects to retain garment factories in Midtown Manhattan and to expand urban agriculture throughout New York City. He also has worked for the Baltimore City Planning Department, as a community organizer for ACORN, and for the nonprofit book publisher The New Press.

Architect-in-residence Andrew Perkins recently completed a collaborative Master's thesis project at the University at Buffalo, which transformed an abandoned house into his year-long off-the-grid home, using only waste materials. Focusing on areas of blight, depopulation, and economic tension, he uses waste materials as the common denominator to transcend social and financial gaps. His work with Flint Public Art Project involves transforming the long-vacant Spencer's Mortuary into a cooperative art space and model for material reuse.

James Andrews is an artist, educator, organizer, curator, and arts producer based in New York City. His work involves exploring new forms of social organization and experimental groups. Prior to studying systems approaches to art and collaboration with Paul Ryan at The New School, Andrews was artist in residence at the Banlozi Camp for Refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2003 he co-produced Art, Circuitry, and Ecology, a conference at the City University of New York Graduate Center and Berkeley Hall of Science, honoring the anthropologist Gregory Bateson. Andrews has exhibited, taught, performed, and organized extensively, including shows and events at Postmasters Gallery, Sculpture Center, the National Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ABC No Rio, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Deitch Projects, and the Queens Museum. Andrews is a founding member of Nsumi Collective. Nsumi creates collaborative artwork that combines fine art, architecture, community engagement and experimental design. They produce and participate in exhibitions and events, conduct research on public art, pedagogy and emerging collaborative practices. Andrews has organized numerous public workshops and lectures on topics such as formal decentralization, swarm intelligence and emerging forms of civic protest with the Museum of Arts and Design, Storefront for Art and Architecture, School of the Future, and Creative Time as a part of the Living as Form show, with Trade School NYC.

His collaborative work has been covered by NHK TV (Japan), The New Yorker, Metro NY, Total Theater Magazine, Archinect, the New York Times, Art News, Waging Non-Violence, and The Economist.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

National Day of Civic Hacking

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.urbanretailinstitute.com

National Day of Civic Hacking is a national event that will take place June 1-2, 2013, in cities across the nation. The event will bring together citizens, software developers, and entrepreneurs from all over the nation to collaboratively create, build, and invent new solutions using publicly-released data, code and technology to solve challenges relevant to our neighborhoods, our cities, our states and our country. National Day of Civic Hacking will provide citizens an opportunity to do what is most quintessentially American: roll up our sleeves, get involved and work together to improve our society.

The event will leverage the expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of those outside federal, state and local government to drive meaningful, technology-based solutions for federal, state and local government. It demonstrates what's possible when we all work together to strengthen our society and our lives. YOU can make a difference no matter where you live.

You should participate in National Day of Civic Hacking because the toughest challenges are not one community’s alone to solve. This is a unique opportunity to:

- get involved, connect with others like yourself,

- develop technology that will make the world a better place,

- demonstrate a commitment to the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration.

- exercise a government’s interest in using open data and technology, in partnership with others, to address your local community’s felt needs,

- liberate open data that can inform better problem solving in every community,

- continue to collectively map a national innovation ecosystem and create new access points to that system,

- engage citizens in cities with little technology infrastructure to contribute to changing their community through open source, open data, entrepreneurship and code development,

- promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education by encouraging students to utilize open technology for solutions to real challenges, and

- encourage large scale partnership and mutual understanding.

National Day of Civic Hacking will not be the same type of event in each city. Depending on the local needs of your community, it might be a block party brigade meetup - or something else entirely.

Our vision is for the National Day of Civic Hacking to take place in at least one city in all 50 states and territories. If you do not see your city on the list and are interested in planning or supporting an event, get involved today!

There are many ways you can get involved in National Day of Civic Hacking. Our success will lie in government agencies, companies, organizations, universities and citizens working together to make a difference.

Plan an event today and bring the National Day of Civic Hacking to your town!

Your first decision will be to determine which type of event you want to host.

Are you interested in helping to host, fund or support an event in your community? This is truly a community effort and we need your help! Contact us for more information on how to get involved. Contribute data, code, or a challenge idea.

Do you have data, APIs, code, or other resources that could help inform solutions? Do you have an idea for a challenge to be addressed?

There are many ways in which you or your organization can support National Day of Civic Hacking. If you are interested in supporting National Day of Civic Hacking at a National Level, contact us. If you are interested in sponsoring exclusively at your local event, check the events page and reach out to an organizer near you.

Valencia Corridor Merchants Association

Location: San Francisco, CA

Website: www.keepvalencialocal.com

The VCMA is a member–operated neighborhood association focused on maintaining the great qualities of the Valencia Corridor.

Our mission is to cultivate and beautify the corridor for the benefit of visitors, residents and merchants. Additionally, we endeavor to combine our voices and views toward the goal of maintaining the unique identity and independent spirit of the neighborhood.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Over The Rhine Foundation

Location: Cinncinnati, OH

Website: www.otrfoundation.org

The Over-the-Rhine Foundation is a non-profit organization, founded in 1992, to help preserve and revitalize Cincinnati’s most historic, diverse and architecturally rich community.

The Over-the-Rhine Foundation works to preserve, protect and celebrate Over-the-Rhine, the historic heart of Cincinnati, by encouraging community growth, sound planning and responsible, sustainable development.

Over-the-Rhine will become an economic and cultural asset for the city of Cincinnati; a revitalized, safe, diverse, beautiful and vibrant community in which to live, work and play.

The Over-the-Rhine Foundation (OTRF) has been working to improve this historically significant neighborhood since 1992. We believe that Over-the-Rhine is more than simply a community worth preserving. It is the heart of Cincinnati and the key to a better future, not only for OTR - but for the region as well.

The OTRF embraces our mission to preserve, protect and celebrate Over-the-Rhine by creating an ecologically sustainable, urban community. We work in collaboration with like-minded organizations, dedicated to re-inventing Over-the Rhine as an exemplary, diverse neighborhood in which to live, work and play.

Rightsizing Streets Guide

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.urbanretailinstitute.com

The needs of our communities evolve over time, and our street design should, too. That’s the idea behind ‘rightsizing streets’ – reconfiguring the layout of our streets to better serve the people who use them, whether they’re commuters driving, shoppers walking, or children bicycling.

Across the country, communities large and small are achieving impressive safety, mobility, and community outcomes by implementing such reconfigurations. Project for Public Spaces created this rightsizing resource to highlight the accomplishments of these communities and share best practices.

Our transportation staff +can advise stakeholders and decision-makers, skillfully facilitate a rightsizing process, and produce rightsized designs for agencies and community groups.

Rightsizing is the process of reallocating a street’s space to better serve its full range of users.

Picture a four lane road that was built thirty years ago in an undeveloped area, but that now has housing, shops, and an elementary school in close vicinity. The needs of the community surrounding that road have changed over three decades – and the design of that road may need to change to meet those needs as well. It may need a sidewalks or a median to help people cross safely, or on-street parking for folks who want to frequent local shops, or other safety features to prevent injuries.

Rightsizing a road can encompass a broad array of redesign measures, and should always be sensitive to context and the vision of the local community, but often involves some or all of the following goals and strategies:

- Rightsizing a street is often a prerequisite to the street becoming a place where people want to be, instead of just a corridor to pass through.

- Rightsizing reconfigures a street to best serve the people who need to use it, whether they’re drivers, pedestrians, or bicyclists. By improving safety, especially for people walking or biking, and by increasing space devoted to people, rightsizing projects cause vehicles to slow down and people to spend more time outside on the street.

This is great for people who live in the street’s vicinity, businesses that line it, and those who travel through it.

The most common type of street rightsizing converts a two-way four lane street to a three lane street. Removing one of the vehicle lanes can free up space to add or expand pedestrian, bicycle infrastructure, and on-street parking, or other uses.

A rightsized three lane street commonly has one traffic lane and one bicycle lane in each direction, with a shared two-way left hand turn lane in the center that allows cars in both directions to make a left. These changes help make a street better for the range of people using it, typically without restricting vehicle volumes or lengthening travel times.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development

Location: Washington, DC

Website: www.cnhed.org

CNHED leads nonprofit community development organizations in ensuring that residents with low and moderate incomes have housing and economic opportunities in neighborhoods throughout the District.

CNHED is a dynamic, member-driven 501(c)3 umbrella organization that supports the nonprofit housing and economic development industry in Washington, DC.

Since its inception in 2000, the organization has grown from 55 organizations to over 130 today, due in part to its success in carrying out a highly successful program of advocacy, training, research, communication, and information sharing in support of its members. CNHED’s membership represents a broad spectrum of entities including nonprofit and for-profit affordable housing developers, housing counseling and service agencies, community development corporations, small businesses, lenders, intermediaries, associations and government agencies.  This diversity enables CNHED to continue building strong neighborhoods together.

CNHED is proud to be a leader in the District of Columbia as:

- One of the District’s Most Effective Advocacy Organizations,

- A Premier Trainer of Community Development Staff in DC,

- A Respected Expert on Affordable Housing Issues,

- A Unifying Voice and Representative of Community Development Sector, and

- A Problem Solver and Reliable Source of Information.

[CNHED] provides an informed and respected voice for the community development industry as an advocate for affordable housing and neighborhood-based economic development.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Transportation Alternatives

Location: New York, NY

Website: www.transalt.org

Transportation Alternatives is New York City's leading transportation advocacy organization, with a citywide network of 100,000 active supporters committed to reclaiming New York City’s streets for people by ensuring that every New Yorker has safe space to walk and bike and access to public transportation.

Every day, all over the city, we're working to make New York City’s neighborhoods safer and restore a vibrant culture of street life.

Transportation Alternatives is involved in every aspect of traveling around New York City. From bike routes and bus lanes to pedestrian crossings and play streets, we’re fighting for safer, smarter transportation and a healthier city.

Since our founding in 1973 T.A. has helped New York City’s bicycling population grow exponentially and worked to dramatically reduce the number of pedestrians killed each year by dangerous drivers.

In the early 2000s, T.A. introduced New York’s policymakers to the idea of bus-only lanes, laying the foundation for the swift new Select Bus Service in 2007. With the help of our network of tens of thousands of supporters, Transportation Alternatives has won improvements all over the city.

Meeting of the Minds

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.cityminded.org

An invitation-only conference, Meeting of the Minds brings together 350 opinion-shapers, policy-makers, leading thinkers and innovators from every sector.

The conference is two-plus days of intensive exchange for leaders creating more sustainable cities using smarter design tools, sounder environmental practices, and cleaner energy systems.

Among the dozens of international leaders who speak at Meeting of the Minds are innovators scaling-up practical urban innovation in infrastructure, design, technology, energy, transport, water, finance – all are building more livable cities.

At Meeting of the Minds, leaders from multiple sectors and diverse geographies share ideas and shape a common agenda.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Failed Architecture

Location: International

Website: www.failedarchitecture.com

Failed Architecture is a research platform that aims to open up new perspectives on urban failure – from what it’s perceived to be, what’s actually happening and how it’s represented to the public.
Supported by a website, travelling workshops and a series of lectures, the research collective seeks to develop ongoing and open conversations with experts in the field of architecture and planning and the public at large.

Based in Amsterdam, but operating internationally, Failed Architecture consists of a group of young professionals that share knowledge in architecture, urbanism, media, sociology, history and the arts.

Observing and living in a time in which the position and meaning of architecture is increasingly being questioned, our main drive is to research the political and cultural processes that tag a building as a success or a failure (past/ present/ future).

By using the maxim ‘failed architecture’ we aim to raise questions. What is failure? Which criteria do we/ can we use to define failure? According to whom has something failed? If perceived as failed, what caused this and what are its effects?

We understand architecture as the outcome of larger urban dynamics, which are therefore at the core of our research. By exploring a wide range of viewpoints – e.g. residents, architects, planners, developers and artists – we aim to provide some possible answers to the aforementioned questions.

This will provide us with broad insights into how the relationships between design, politics, economics, culture and human behavior can literally and representatively (re)shape our built environment.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Urban Age Institute


Website: www.urbanretailinstitute.com

Since it was founded in 1999, Urban Age Institute (UAI) has been dedicated to a singular proposition: bring together a carefully chosen set of key urban sustainability and technology stakeholders and gather them around a common platform in ways that help build lasting alliances.

UAI believes that such a platform is a vital ingredient for smart, sustainable and equitable urban (re)development strategies.

Urban Age Magazine was founded inside the World Bank in 1991, and spun off in 1999 as an independent non-profit organization. UAI’s glossy print magazine, published in five languages, was focused on the many dimensions of city-scale innovation: economics, politics, governance, and culture.

It’s notable that all of this was being published well before ‘smart cities’ and ‘sustainable development’ became part of the metropolitan lexicon.

UAI launched Meeting of the Minds in 2007 to extend the Institute’s mission, to connect disparate leaders from different worlds, to spotlight innovators working in near-isolation.

In 2012, Meeting of the Minds took it to the next level by launching its blog at CityMinded.org. A new communications strategy quickly took shape, with monthly webinars; the Meeting of the Minds Magazine; monthly meet-ups; and other direct outreach activities.

Each activity aims to leverage the thought leadership that crystallizes during each Meeting — and that open conversation continues during the months that follow.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Location: Washington, DC

Website: www.downtowndc.org

The DowntownDC BID is a non-profit organization that works to improve Downtown DC’s public environment, economy and social equity. Our goal is to create a vibrant, inviting and smart place where people from all walks of life are able to explore, create and share remarkable urban experiences that inspire and revitalize.

Property owners fund this special district through tax assessments that enable the DowntownDC BID to improve the public realm and to promote and help retain businesses. Established under District of Columbia legislation in 1997, the DowntownDC BID was renewed for additional five-year terms in 2002 and 2007 through votes of property owners and tenants and actions of the Mayor and City Council.

More than 800 commercial properties comprise the DowntownDC BID area within the boundaries of the National Mall on the south, Massachusetts Avenue (including the Walter E. Washington Convention Center) on the north, Louisiana Avenue on the east and the White House and 16th Street on the west. The DowntownDC BID area encompasses the Gallery Place, Chinatown, Federal Triangle, Franklin Square, McPherson Square, Midtown and Penn Quarter neighborhoods.

The DowntownDC BID provides services in the areas of safety, hospitality, maintenance, physical improvements, homeless services, transportation, marketing, special events, planning, economic development and environmental sustainability. In addition, the DowntownDC BID provides management services to affiliated non-profit organizations: the National Cherry Blossom Festival®, the District of Columbia Surface Transit, Inc. (DCST), the Public Space Planning and Management Corporation and the Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District.

A Board of Directors, consisting of 42 business and civic leaders, governs the DowntownDC BID with an annual budget of $10 million, the majority of which is spent on maintenance, beautification, safety and hospitality.

The organization relies upon partnerships with the District of Columbia government, the federal government—especially the General Services Administration (through their Good Neighbor Program, which actively supports urban development through community partnerships); the National Park Service; and the National Capital Planning Commission, as well as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority—and a variety of other public agencies and private sector organizations in order to accomplish its work.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Location: International

Website: www.shelterforce.org

Shelterforce is the nation’s oldest continually published housing and community development magazine. For more than three decades, Shelterforce has been a primary forum for organizers, activists, and advocates in the affordable-housing and neighborhood revitalization movements.

National Housing Institute, an independent nonprofit organization that examines the issues causing the crisis in housing and community in America These issues include poverty and racism, disinvestment and lack of employment, safety, education, and breakdown of the social fabric. NHI examines how these and other factors affect people as they try to build safe, viable neighborhoods. NHI searches for what does and does not work in community-building. In our 30-plus years of existence, Shelterforce has become the leading publication for community-building professionals and other stakeholders in creating vibrant communities.

We are dedicated to providing the tools (information, analysis, resources) for advocates, activists, and community members to organize their communities, rebuild their neighborhoods, and create decent housing and living-wage jobs for the families who live there.
Shelterforce began as a “how-to” publication for tenant activists

Shelterforce helped tenants, tenant organizers, and tenant advocates (e.g. legal aid lawyers) learn how to be more effective in securing tenants’ rights to safe, decent homes.

Over the years, as inner-city neighborhoods experienced an onslaught of disinvestment, crime, and family disintegration, the focus has changed. During the ‘80s and early ‘90s, Shelterforce began to examine a wider range of community-building issues, always with the goal of empowering individuals and groups to take control of their communities so that they can effect real change.

Shelterforce has established itself as a vital link in policy development—providing clear and understandable analysis of important policy issues (as well as concise descriptions of rules and regulations) to grass-roots activists while providing input from the grass-roots to local, state, and national policymakers.

As a part of the National Housing Institute, Shelterforce is driven by NHI’s vision of once-devastated communities rebuilt by empowered residents. Founded by grass-roots activists such as tenant organizer and legal services lawyer John Atlas and Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, the executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action, NHI’s board is composed of community-based organization representatives and individuals devoted to economic and social justice.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The City Fix

Location: International

Website: www.thecityfix.com

TheCityFix is an online resource for learning about the latest in sustainable urban mobility and planning. Launched in 2007, the site connects a global network of writers, urban planners, designers, engineers, and citizens who work to make cities better places to live.

EMBARQ, a not-for-profit program of the World Resources Institute that works to catalyze and help implement environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable transport and urban planning solutions.

Since 2002, the EMBARQ network has grown to include six centers – based in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Turkey and the Andean region, that work together with local authorities, businesses and national governments to reduce pollution, improve public health, and create safe and accessible urban environments.

TheCityFix relies on this international community and other volunteer contributors to provide a global, multi-disciplinary perspective to its coverage of issues relating to urban sustainability.

Here at TheCityFix, we rely on members of our global community to share their stories and ideas relating to urban sustainability.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

PARK(ing) Day

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.parkingday.org

PARK(ing) Day is a annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” temporary public places.

The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco.

Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.

The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!

A brief history of PARK(ing) Day -

Rebar’s original PARK(ing) project in 2005 transformed a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in an area of San Francisco that the city had designated as lacking public open space.

The great majority of San Francisco’s downtown outdoor space is dedicated to movement and storage of private vehicles, while only a fraction of that space is allocated to serve a broader range of public needs. Paying the meter of a parking space enables one to lease precious urban real estate on a short-term basis.

The PARK(ing) project was created to explore the the range of possible activities for this short-term lease, and to provoke a critical examination of the values that generate the form of urban public space.

The original PARK(ing) Day installation by Rebar, San Francisco 2005". Our original PARK stood in place for two hours – the term of the lease offered on the face of the parking meter. When the meter expired, we rolled up the sod, packed away the bench and the tree, and gave the block a good sweep, and left. A few weeks later, as a single iconic photo of the intervention (left) traveled across the web, Rebar began receiving requests to create the PARK(ing) project in other cities. Rather than replicate the same installation, we decided to promote the project as an “open-source” project, and created a how-to manual to empower people to create their own parks without the active participation of Rebar. And thus “PARK(ing) Day” was born.

PARK(ing) Day has since been adapted and remixed to address a variety of social issues in diverse urban contexts around the world, and the project continues to expand to include interventions and experiments well beyond the basic “tree-bench-sod” park typology first modeled by Rebar.

In recent years, participants have built free health clinics, planted temporary urban farms, produced ecology demonstrations, held political seminars, built art installations, opened free bike repair shops and even held a wedding ceremony! All this in the context of this most modest urban territory – the metered parking space.

And this is the true power of the open-source model: organizers identify specific community needs and values and use the event to draw attention to issues that are important to their local public—everything from experimentation and play to acts of generosity and kindness, to political issues such as water rights, labor equity, health care and marriage equality.

All of these interventions, irrespective of where they fall on the political spectrum, support the original vision of PARK(ing) Day: to challenge existing notions of public urban space and empower people to help redefine space to suit specific community needs.

In addition to being quite a bit of fun, PARK(ing) Day has effectively re-valued the metered parking space as an important part of the commons – a site for generosity, cultural expression, socializing and play. And although the project is temporary, we hope PARK(ing) Day inspires you to participate in the civic processes that permanently alter the urban landscape.

Walk Bike Transit

Location: Chicago, IL

Website: www.walkbiketransit.org

Walk Bike Transit is a non-partisan political action committee conceived as a means of engaging in political advocacy that is off-limits to 501c3 not-for-profit advocacy groups.

As a political organization, our mission is to influence elections and candidates on behalf of active transportation issues. As such, WBT has mobilized voters all across the city to engage and support local candidates on the importance of better biking, walking and transit options.

Our strategic approach has been built around district and ward-specific events organized by WBT and hosted for candidates around elections. These events have provided voters the opportunity to engage with candidates on the importance of bikeable, walkable and transit-friendly communities. In turn, candidates were given the chance to earn support by demonstrating an understanding and commitment to active transportation issues.

Perhaps most importantly, Walk Bike Transit events mark the beginning of an ongoing dialogue about ways in which communities and leaders can work together towards a practical vision for transforming transportation options.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Location: International

Website: www.iclei.org

ICLEI is the world's leading association of cities and local governments dedicated to sustainable development. We are a powerful movement of 12 mega-cities, 100 super-cities and urban regions, 450 large cities as well as 450 medium-sized cities and towns in 84 countries.

We promote local action for global sustainability and supports cities to become sustainable, resilient, resource-efficient, biodiverse, low-carbon; to build a smart infrastructure; and to develop an inclusive, green urban economy with the ultimate aim to achieve healthy and happy communities.

ICLEI is a growing association of cities, local and metropolitan governments leading the way in sustainable development with worldwide presence, which connects leaders in strategic alliances, which prepares cities for the future, whose voice is heard, and which is attractive to be a member of, work for and partner with.

ICLEI is a high-energy, flexible movement of local governments working together in national, regional and international networks; engaging in global campaigns for sustainability, participating in performance-based programs, advancing through an international exchange of experiences and solutions – a movement which is supported by commitment processes, performance frameworks, programs, networks, strategic alliances and centers of excellence.

ICLEI is an effective sustainability and environmental strengthening the capacity of local governments and their networks to identify and implement radical solutions and act rapidly; providing advanced knowledge and delivering training to local leaders, planners and decision makers; demonstrating creativity and excellence in developing innovative methods and tools; serving as the cities gateway to solutions for the future.

Friday, September 6, 2013


Location: Nationwide

Website: www.engagingcities.com

EngagingCities is an online magazine that shares creative strategies and new technologies to foster public engagement for livable communities.

How could cities be improved if they were shaped by citizens with the help of experts -- instead of being planned by the experts and handed to citizens as a finished product?

EngagingCities is a gathering place for exploring the ideas and tools that are empowering people to become part of the creative process of planning for better communities.

Our goal at Engaging Cities is simple: to inspire urban planners, architects, developers, educators, economists, and policy makers to apply new approaches and technologies in ways that make our communities more participatory, collaborative, and effective. We highlight new online tools and examine how they can be used in the emerging culture of citizen participation and engagement. We also explore low-tech, high-impact strategies for community involvement.

Every day, new projects and developments across the globe demonstrate creative ways for including citizens in the shaping of places. EngagingCities is where you can follow and become part of this movement.

We think that the rise of interactive web-based technologies is going to profoundly remake our cities – large and small, across the world. We believe open source principles -- collaboration, openness, transparency -- will influence how urban development happens, and we think that community professionals need to learn new ways to meet their responsibilities in communities that depend more and more on those tools – and those expectations. By sharing, leading discussions and helping people explore innovative community engagement strategies, we want to help shape the discussion about the future of our places and how to use these tools and expectations.

Behind EngagingCities is a dedicated group of professionals and contributors with a commitment to helping planners, architects, local officials and communities utilize innovative online and mobile tools to spark interaction and engagement within planning processes.

Chris Haller, EngagingCities’ Publisher, is the CEO of Urban Interactive Studio and CommonSights. UIS provides a suite of outreach strategies and tools to communities across the world, including the EngagingPlans engagement platform, the FlipSides public engagement games, and several others. A longtime leader in the development of online public engagement tools and strategies, Chris lives in Denver, Colorado.

Della Rucker, EngagingCities’ Managing Editor, is Principal of the Wise Economy Workshop, a consulting firm and conversation-provoker in the fields of economic revitalization and public engagement. In addition to her work with Engaging Cities, Della also produces a blog and a podcast, both of which are available at wiseeconomy.com. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

We are always looking for people who want to tell stories about innovative ways to help community professionals and residents take charge of their community’s future. We are looking for research, ideas, experiments, and successes of engaging planning, and we hope you will help us raise awareness across the globe about how citizens and professionals can work together to make our places truly great.