Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

The Great Neighborhood Book

Dateline: 10:47 am August 28, 2007 Filed under:

Easily the year’s most inspiring read for urbanists is “The Great Neighborhood Book – A Do-it-Yourself Guide to Placemaking,” by Jay Walljasper. A fellow Minneapolitan, Mr. Walljasper has been active for years finding ways to improve his neighborhood. This book, a Project for Public Spaces ( publication, provides a broad and effective array of ideas to improve cities.

The Great Neighborhood Book is divided in to chapters such as Pride in Your Place and Greening the Neighborhood, but is effectively a series of one- and two-page case studies. It includes everything from a simple potluck with neighbors to turning entire neighborhoods around. Included are references and resources linked to each case study, allowing the reader to investigate more thoroughly an idea they like.

My favorite idea is one by the Rebar Group, a San Francisco-based organization that raises awareness about the need for urban green space through slightly vigilante but entirely legal means. They plug a parking meter for an afternoon and bring sod, trees and lawn chairs, camping out to raise awareness of the need for more parks. Called PARK(ing) Day, the idea has been replicated in many cities, and our very own North Loop neighborhood in Minneapolis is planning to participate next month.

The Great Neighborhood Book is available at the PPS website. It is only $19.95, and I encourage you to order it today.

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