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The Great Neighborhood Book: A Do-it-Yourself Guide to Placemaking

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  77 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Abandoned lots and litter-strewn pathways, or rows of green beans and pockets of wildflowers? Graffiti-marked walls and desolate bus stops, or shady refuges and comfortable seating? What transforms a dingy, inhospitable area into a dynamic gathering place? How do individuals take back their neighborhood?

Neighborhoods decline when the people who live there lose their connec
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 1st 2007 by New Society Publishers
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Jason Pettus
Jul 28, 2008 Jason Pettus rated it really liked it
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this review, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

Gentrification. There. I said it. It's an instantly controversial term, one that means profoundly different things to different people; for some it's ultimately positive, a process of cleaning up slummy inner-city neighborhoods and making them thriving family communities again, while for others it's
Stephanie Sheaffer
Jul 08, 2014 Stephanie Sheaffer rated it really liked it
Lots of fantastic ideas for building a stronger sense of community in your neighborhood!

Published in 2007, the book is in need of an update - with glossy pages, color photographs, and current stats. I'd also like to see more practical + detailed ideas for throwing block parties, organizing parades, planning backyard dinners, etc.
Miz Lizzie
More an idea and resource book than a how-to, this book provides some inspirational reading for bringing a sense of belonging and connection to our neighborhoods and towns. I especially appreciated that the examples are not solely US-centric but include a good assortment from Canada and Britain as well as some from Europe. Gratifying that some places I've lived (Madison, WI, North Carolina) and projects I've participated in (EcoTeams) are included. Depressing to find my current location complete ...more
Jim Dressner
May 23, 2013 Jim Dressner rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This 173-page book is full of ideas about how to improved neighborhoods. The ideas are short--only 1-4 pages each--and often accompanied by a success story or two. The ideas are gathered into eight chapters around themes like transportation, safety, clean & green, economic vibrancy, etc. This is more of a resource of ideas that one can refer to, rather than a book with a logical thread that runs cover-to-cover. This is an excellent resource for anyone concerned with neighborhood revitalizati ...more
May 12, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it
The Great Neighborhood Book is a fast and easy read, full of suggestions that will inspire you to make your neighborhood more like a village.

...Assuming, that is, that you live in a city. I docked a star because there's absolutely nothing in the book for rural dwellers, and the author seems actively opposed to us in spots. Anyone have a suggestion for a similar book for those of us who hate cities?
Aug 06, 2009 Constantine rated it liked it
Not the most comprehensive book on planning and community development, but certainly provides an interesting array of powerful vignettes. A better book for true beginners to the concept of re-centralizing community than guide for those looking to make an impact in the near future. Several stories were particularly inspiring however, and the Great Neighborhood Book does lead one to re-believe in the power of small actions for great good.
Jun 30, 2008 Molly rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
This is a collection of stories and successful projects all designed to inspire anyone to improve their quality of life, by improving their neighborhood. I found a few ideas which I hope to implement, like setting up a walking school bus. However, one of the best parts of this book is realizing the great things that already exist in your neighborhood!
Nov 01, 2007 Trish rated it really liked it
I'm currently involved with a neighborhood group that is working to revitalize a neglected public space on our street as well as build community and pride in our ever-changing neighborhood. This book has given me/us great ideas to help develop our block into the small-town feel of a community where neighbors know each other and help each other.
Mar 11, 2008 Ross rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: activists, urban dwellers
Shelves: reference
A large collection of how-to stories about people improving their neighborhood. Project for Public Spaces, the group that compiled the book, calls it "placemaking" - making your block or street a more friendly, safe, and interactive place to live. Apart from being inspirational, reading these stories is just plain fun.
Sep 16, 2015 Jeff rated it really liked it
This book has some great ideas and is generally very well written, although by about 75% of the way through the book, Mr. Walljasper's anecdotes start to sound a bit repetitious, as if he's trying to stretch his material across too many pages.
Robin-Elise Call
May 02, 2010 Robin-Elise Call rated it liked it
good start for the lay-person, wanting to actually invest in their local space. It doesn't matter what a person's economy is, we are responsible for creating out own communities.
Apr 25, 2012 Tatjana rated it liked it
This book is meant entirely for urban populations. It does not even address rural neighborhoods.
Too bad.
If you live in a city, it's great.
Apr 11, 2008 Annie rated it really liked it
Inspiring examples and stories of community building
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Jay Walljasper chronicles stories from around the world that point us toward a greener, more equitable and more enjoyable future. His focus goes beyond what’s in the headlines to chronicle the surprising real life of communities today.

Jay is editor of and a Senior Fellow Fellow and editor at On the, an organization devoted to restoring an appreciation of common purpos
More about Jay Walljasper...

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