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25 Tips for Making Your Neighborhood Better

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

| by Jay Walljasper

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.

Everyone has a contribution to make toward improving your neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of Project for Public Spaces)

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

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Posted August 13, 2012

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