Author of The Great Neighborhood Book Jay Walljasper shows how communities can become cities of great neighbors.

“Blessed with laws, humbled by climate, unburdened by history or destiny, Torontonians remake the world in their small communities, adding yoga, sweat lodge, dim sum or doughnuts to their lives.”

– Deanne Taylor, playwright, in the urban-essay collection uTOpia

One more blessing she might have added is a place to step out, look your neighbours in the eye and say hello.

Piazzas are ideal for strolling and sociability – the chance meetings that are vital in successful neighbourhoods, says Jay Walljasper, author of The Great Neighborhood Book A Do-it-Yourself Guide to Placemaking. And since not every neighbourhood can have spectacular people-meeting places like Rome’s Piazza Navona or New York’s Rockefeller Center, there are new ways to reclaim space for these casual encounters.

In Delft, Netherlands, citizens upset about speeding traffic in their neighbourhood streets, hauled old couches onto the road and relaxed there, forcing cars to drive around them and slow down. These neighbourhood guerrilla tactics were effective – they’ve now become part of the city’s plan to introduce woonerfs (living yards) on streets where drivers are a nuisance.

In Portland, Ore., residents made a friendlier neighbourhood by painting patterns on a busy intersection, erecting community bulletin boards, and bringing in a tea wagon, all to make people linger.

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