Strategic architecture: a new approach to revitalizing cities gains steam

“Instead of completely altering the existing aesthetic of the neighborhood through the development of overly-ambitious or tin-eared design initiatives, these architects and designers have demonstrated a devoted effort to transform urban environments without disrupting them. Lange has a name for this unique approach to design; she calls it “strategic architecture.” Typically supported by advocacy organizations and citizen action groups alike, this type of design stems from “an understanding of past civic hopes and redesigning them to meet the future.” In cities ranging from Houston to San Francisco, architects and developers are demonstrating this approach to urban design, one that “combines the forces of community activism and historic preservation with government muscle.” The strategy encourages future growth through “eye-catching design” and allowing residents connectivity to the “parks, plazas, bike paths and libraries that give neighborhoods a center.”


Mobile game rewards players when they provide favours for neighbours (U.S.)

Favortree, the first favour-trading game for mobile phones, can help connect you with your neighbours. The game rewards members for providing favours for others by gaming the experience with a virtual fruit tree – the more someone helps others in their community, the more fruit grows on their tree; fruit can then be exchanged for favours.

Building Community Capacity: Evidence, efficiency and cost-effectiveness

Evidence suggests that improved community connections can lead to better health and wellbeing and has economic benefits too. At a time of budget constraints, it is therefore particularly important to support community inclusion and active participation. The report Building Community Capacity: Evidence, efficiency and cost-effectiveness briefly draws together some of the evidence that Think Local Act Personal is aware contributes to this business case.
There are some fundamental lessons to learn about the health-preserving effects of good social networks, connected communities, the value of peer support and the multiplicity of outcomes well beyond social care that can be improved by working with local people in a co-productive way. There is a strong case to be made for a joined-up, local approach to health and wellbeing that seeks to connect people together and to create the conditions for happier, healthier communities through participation and inclusion.

Men’s Sheds: a nascent global movement

Created in Australia in the mid-1990s, Men’s Sheds are gathering places for men to work on projects, socialize, support each other, do community service and more.
“Most people working in the sheds don’t see themselves as being involved in community development from their immediate perspective. Sheds are sort of an incognito community education and development space where people who are disempowered or disenfranchised come along with ideas, and by putting them into action, they get a sense of action, a sense of agency back, a place for their own voice.”
Related item: the Squirrel’s Nest, a men’s shed in Bridgend. Unit 38, Tondu Enterprise Centre, Bryn Road, Tondu, Bridgend, CF32 9BS. Tel 07784 288 772. The shed operates every Friday.

Biourbanism, rethinking the science of space

“It’s time to think about the effect of our environment on human beings, and [seize] our responsibility as designers. The [contemporary] city has been built as a machine, for production. We built a society that in fact is not social, a society of individuals without connection, and the spaces where they live don’t allow them to make any real connections. If you [compare this with] the ancient towns, you will notice a difference. It’s typical in a small Italian town for the elders who went to the modern towns to want to come back. Because they can, for example, sit down and start talking to other people. If they need somebody, they can ask for help. Of course, we can’t go back to the past, we can’t build again what has been built by another society, another economy. But we can learn something. We want to build a contemporary architecture, a contemporary urbanism that uses contemporary materials, but that pays attention to these aspects as very relevant. (…) Recycling space, bringing it back to the quality of “place,” is not an expensive operation. [It’s] not about concrete, trucks, and big money. Beauty is a matter of relationships.”

Related link – RSA paper: Developing Socially Productive Places

The first lie…

The first lie… 
is that you’re going to need far more talent than you were born with.
The second lie is that the people who are leading in the new connection economy got there because they have something you don’t.
The third lie is that you have to be chosen.
The fourth lie is that we’re not afraid.

We’re afraid.

Afraid to lead, to make a ruckus, to convene. Afraid to be vulnerable, to be called out, to be seen as a fraud.
The connection economy isn’t based on steel or rails or buildings. It’s built on trust and hope and passion.
The future belongs to those that care and those that believe.
~ Seth Godin