Posted by: FBRuralDevelopment | 02/07/2012

Do It Yourself from CommunityMatters

CommunityMatters, a project of the Orton Family Foundation, is offering a free conference call Thursday, February 9 from 4-5 pm EST to learn how you can liven up your community without a lot of effort. The session is called Do It Yourself Community: A lighter, quicker, cheaper way to change your town

 Community Matters has an archived conference call series available online and you can subscribe to the Community Matters Blog to get notifications of all the upcoming conference calls.

 Here is the blog post in its entirety:

 So your community needs some help. Maybe Main Street is struggling and needs a face lift, or the downtown is short on parks (never mind benches). You could go to City Council and ask for a budget appropriation and a committee to study public spaces and make a recommendation. Maybe you’d get some funding and a decision by next year. Maybe. 

 Or, you could go out and do it yourself.

 Residents, community activists, elected officials, and others are all increasingly turning to the DIY approach to make change in their neighborhoods, and to do it fast. You don’t need thousands of dollars, a full staff, and a couple of years to make your community more livable, attractive, and engaging. You just need some creative ideas, a few people, and a little chutzpah.

 The Project for Public Spaces calls this notion the “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” approach. PPS’s  Phil Myrick will join us on the line to talk about how communities are thinking about placemaking and development differently, “taking incremental steps, using low-cost experiments, and tapping into local talents (e.g. citizens, entrepreneurs, developers, and city staff).”

We’ll also hear from Mike Lydon of the StreetsPlan Collaborative, and a co-author of Tactical Urbanism: Short-Term Action, Long-Term Change. According to the guide, tactical urbanism (a.k.a. “guerrilla urbanism,” “pop-up urbanism” or “DIY urbanism” is about getting away from the emphasis on major planning projects, huge developments or infrastructure overhauls. Creating a more engaged community and more livable streets can be as simple as painting bike lanes on pavement, driving in a pop-up food cart, or creating a temporary park out of an underused parking space.

A Better Block Project in TX to make a busy street more friendly for businesses and pedestrians.

 There are dozens of examples of DIY Community these days, and we bet you can come up with even more that would work in your community.

 Here’s just one to get you inspired: Jason Roberts is behind the Better Block Project, an idea that started on a blighted block in Dallas, where he brought a team of volunteers in to temporarily place bushes in one lane of traffic, create cafe seating, and tackle other minor changes that revolutionized the neighborhood. The project itself is now going viral, with Better Blocks popping up all over the country.

Join us Thursday, February 9, from 4-5 PM EST for a conversation about DIY Community. Register here.

And if you’re ready to get out your hammer and shovel and tackle a DIY project in your town, mark your calendar for Thurs. February 23, when we’ll host a special call to connect you with others and help you take action.

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