Tactical urbanism (tak-ti-kuhl ur-buh-niz-uhm): a method of testing innovative concepts for urban policy change through low-cost projects built by bringing together creative people and ideas. When done right, these small-scale projects can lead to large-scale, long-term, resident-owned change.
I’ve been telling everyone I meet (and that’s not much of an exaggeration) about tactical urbanism, a fancy term for creative, community-led projects that have been revitalizing neighborhoods, building social capital, and influencing policy in cities across the country. It’s hard to talk about this movement without examples, and there’s a terrific collection of them in the just-released second volume of Tactical Urbanism from the Street Plans Collaborative. Here are some of my favorites:
- Chair bombing: another project by Brooklyn’s DoTank, community members remade packing pallets into Adirondack-style chairs that were strategically placed in public spaces to encourage congregation and conversation.
- Build a Better Block: started in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, community members and business owners reinvigorated underutilized commercial blocks by making temporary use of vacant storefronts, beautifying the streetscape, and hosting gatherings like farmers’ markets.
- Guerilla wayfinding: in Raleigh, NC, community members created and mounted well-designed signs around the city center to inform residents and visitors alike about the walking distances between points of interest in Raleigh, a generally pedestrian-unfriendly city. The project was featured by the BBC and then abruptly ended by city planning officials, but now it looks like the project is slated to get approval for making this project a legitimate, city-approved effort. This is a great example of how, when done right, a one-off idea can become the foundation for lasting change.
- Another example of these projects is one we’ve featured in this blog, the “I wish this was…” campaign in New Orleans.
Inspired? So are we! Get in touch (comment here or email firstname.lastname@example.org) to get involved in efforts to bring these ideas to cities in the SouthCoast.