“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.” That was American architect Daniel Burnham’s city-planning advice at the turn of the 20th century.
More than 100 years later, he couldn’t be more wrong. Big, top-down building projects no longer stir the imaginations of North American city dwellers. Now people are excited about little changes to our urban fabric.
Small, creative projects that make cities more livable are popping up in unexpected places: alleys, front yards, vacant lots and parking spaces. Whether its yarn-bombed street furniture, roadway parking turned to mini-parkettes or guerrilla gardens in overlooked spaces, these often-unauthorized interventions are helping to transform properties and neighbourhoods, one light, quick, cheap tweak at a time.
Last spring, residents of Toronto’s Palmerston Square took note when an old chalkboard suddenly appeared on a tall, rusted schoolyard fence that runs along their quiet residential street — the first salvo from two participants in the David Suzuki Foundation’s Homegrown National Park Project.
Passersby were encouraged to write their desires for green improvements. Neighbours began meeting. One family filled a perpetual pothole with flowers. Others put benches in their front yards to begin “parkifying” the block. Graffiti knitters yarn-bombed the chain-link fence. An artist and local kids created a DIYoutdoor version of fridge magnet poetry with plastic pipes cut in half, painted with words and hung on the fence with simple S-hooks. Two garden planters were dug into spots where trees had perished.
This spring, residents successfully funded a project to replace the entire stretch of asphalt with a large pollinator-friendly garden. There’s even talk of removing the fence. The ripple effect: People from nearby streets have started organizing their own interventions, like a pollinator garden at the neighbourhood daycare and moss graffiti in an alleyway. As resident Anjum Chagpar said, “Inspiration breeds inspiration. Simple, fun interventions are contagious.”
Read the full article: (http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2014/05/in-the-urban-green-revolution-small-is-big/)