Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Book on building community from the ground up

THE GREAT NEIGHBORHOOD BOOK: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Placemaking

by Jay Walljasper and the Project for Public Places
2007; 192 pages; 8.5" x 7.5"; paperback; ISBN: 0-86571-581-5

Catherine Nicosia, Community Bookshelf Manager (Fellowship for Intentional Communities):

The willful destruction of public life in modern times has been so stupendous that real effort must be made to restore it. This includes especially the actual places where it might thrive. It is not unusual to find streets, roads, parks, and other common spaces where there is no one out and about at all, except in automobiles. This is true in both both urban and rural areas.

The Great Neighborhood Book offers realistic ways to change this situation. It is a how-to guide for individuals, groups and local communities on how to improve the quality of life through building shared bonds. It is also full of ideas for creating great places to hang out, fostering economic vitality by creating local marketplaces, supporting social networks and much more. Drawing heavily upon real-life examples in both large and small communities that made a measurable positive difference, the authors blend practicality and inspiration.

I was particularly impressed in reading this book by how many of the examples and suggestions could be incorporated into thinking about the design of new places as well the remaking of existing ones. This makes The Great Neighborhood Book a valuable resource for those crafting new common spaces, wherever they might be. Highly recommended for everyone wanting to live in great places that are created from the community up, not top down.

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