Neighbors Making a Difference
By Jay Walljasper
“My hope that day was to showcase inspiring examples of how everyday citizens made tremendous improvements in the place they call home by putting their heads together with neighbors to conceive new ideas for their neighborhoods and then rolling up their sleeves to put these into action.”
A sunny, near perfect September day took me to Chicago, where the Metropolitan Planning Council had graciously invited me to talk about the role neighborhoods play in social change. That’s the message of my new book The Great Neighborhood Book (New Society Publishers), written in partnership with my colleagues at Project for Public Spaces (PPS). “The citizens are the experts,” has long been the PPS mantra, based on their 30 years of experience helping communities achieve their dreams of becoming safe, lively, livable, lovable places. This phrase reinforces the idea that architects, traffic engineers, public officials planners and other professionals have valuable contributions to make towards neighborhood revitalization efforts, but when their plans turn a deaf ear to a community’s own aspirations for the future, the results often fall far short of the goals.