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COMMONS MAGAZINE

Posted
August 13, 2012

25 Tips for Making Your Neighborhood Better

Jay Walljasper's guide to changing the world on your own block

The neighborhood is the basic building block of human civilization, whether in a big city, small town or suburban community. It’s also the place where you can have the most influence in making a better world. Jay Walljasper, Senior Fellow at OTC and Project for Public Spaces and author of The Great Neighborhood Book, has studied neighborhoods around the world and come up with this list of how to make your community more livable and lovable.


These suggestions are focused on strengthening the sense of community and spirit of the commons by providing people with ways to come together as friends, neighbors and citizens. That creates a firm foundation that enables a neighborhood to solve problems and seize opportunities.


This is drawn from a presentation he gives regularly to community, civic, academic, professional and business groups. For more information, see “Jay Walljasper.com”:http://jaywalljasper.com/.

1. Give people a place to hang-out


2. Give people something to see


3. Give people something to do


4. Give people a place to sit down


5. Give people a safe, comfortable place to walk


6. Give people a safe, comfortable place to bike


7. Give people reliable, comfortable public transportation


8. Make the streets safe


9. Make the streets safe—not just from crime but from traffic


10. Remember the streets belong to everyone—not just motorists


11. Don’t forget about the needs of older neighbors


12. Don’t forget about the needs of kids


13. Let your community go to the dogs


14. Reclaim front yards as social spaces


15. Remember the best neighborhoods, even in big cities, feel like villages


16. Plan for winter weather as well as sunny, warm days


17. Don’t fear density—people enjoy being around other people


18. Don’t give up hope—great changes are possible when neighbors get together


19. Build on what’s good in your community to make things even better


20. Remember the power of the commons: people working together for the benefit of everyone


21. Never underestimate the power of a shared meal to move people into action


22. Start with small steps—like planting flowers


23. Become a community booster, watchdog, patriot


24. Learn from other neighborhoods in your town and around the world


25. Take the time to have fun and enjoy what’s already great about your neighborhood