How to Make a Great Place– Top 26
Being the tech-savvy Millennials that we are here at RenewLV, I happened upon a tweet from our friends at Sustainable Cities that I felt I had to share with you to get your input. The folks at Project for Public Spaces authored the initial post, who also happen to have a connection to the Eastern Gateway project in Bethlehem after doing some work here a few years ago. After taking Rep. Bob Freeman’s class at Lehigh University about growth management and what “place” really means (and passing with high marks, I might add), I found this particular list intriguing. Put these 26 items into play in your life, and you will have designed a “great place.”
- Challenge the prevailing myth that all problems have private, individualized solutions.
- Notice how many of life’s pleasures exist outside the marketplace—gardening, fishing, conversing, playing music, playing ball, enjoying nature, and more.
- Take time to enjoy what your corner of the world offers (As the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire once declared, “We are bigger than our schedules.”)
- Have some fun. The best reason for making great places is that it will enliven all of our lives.
- Offer a smile or greeting to people you pass. Community begins with connecting—even in brief, spontaneous ways.
- Walk, bike, or take transit whenever you can. It’s good for the environment, but also for you. You make very few friends behind the wheel of your car.
- Treat common spaces as if you own them (which, actually, you do). Pick up litter. Keep an eye on the place. Tidy things up. Report problems or repair things yourself. Initiate improvements.
- Pull together a potluck. Throw a block party. Form a community choir, slow food club, Friday night poker game, seasonal festival, or any other excuse for socializing.
- Get out of the house and spend some time on the stoop, the front yard, the street—anywhere you can be a part of the river of life that flows past.
- Create or designate a “town square” for your neighborhood where folks naturally want to gather—a park, playground, vacant lot, community center, coffee shop, or even a street corner.
- Lobby for more public benches, water fountains, plazas, parks, sidewalks, bike trails, playgrounds, and other crucial commons infrastructure.
- Take matters into your own hands and add a bench to your front yard or transform a vacant lot into a playground.
- Conduct an inventory of local commons. Publicize your findings, and offer suggestions for celebrating and improving these community assets.
- Organize your neighbors to prevent crime and to defuse the fear of crime, which often dampens a community’s spirits even more than crime itself.
- Remember streets belong to everyone, not just automobiles. Drive cautiously and push for traffic calming and other improvements that remind motorists they are not kings of the road.
- Buy from local, independent businesses whenever possible.
- Form a neighborhood exchange to share everything from lawn mowers to childcare to vehicles.
- Barter. Trade your skill in baking pies with someone who will fix your computer.
- Join campaigns opposing cutbacks in public assets like transit, schools, libraries, parks, social services, police and fire protection, arts programs, and more.
- Write letters to the editor about the importance of community commons, post on local websites, call into talk radio, tell your friends.
- Learn from everywhere. What can Copenhagen teach us about bicycles? India about wellness? Africa about community solidarity? Indigenous nations about the commons itself? What bright ideas could be borrowed from a nearby neighborhood or town?
- Become a guerrilla gardener, planting flowers and vegetables on neglected land in your neighborhood.
- Organize a community garden or local farmer’s market.
- Roll up your sleeves to restore a creek, wetland, woods, or grasslands.
- Form a study group to explore what can be done to improve your community.
- Think yourself as a local patriot and share your enthusiasm.
To be honest, I think some residents of the Lehigh Valley already do many of these, which is why the Lehigh Valley is such a wonderful place! But we want to know what you think. Anything you would add to the list or take off? What would you recommend we focus on first and foremost to make the Lehigh Valley an even better place?
You can also share your thoughts for the future of this great “place” by visiting www.envisionlehighvalley.com