I know many of my readers are like myself. They can’t draw buildings or maps. However, they may have the time and money to go out and organize the community. The passion for the city is still there, but in a different way. So how can these people contribute to urban planning? Here are five ways:
- Run for office– I know in Greensboro, 75% of the issues that come before council are related to property and zoning issues. If you don’t have the stomach for a campaign, try to get appointed to the zoning commission or the board of adjustments. You can also do like I am doing and volunteer your services for someone with this gift.
- Join your neighborhood association. I’ve discussed the need for neighborhoods to have a neighborhood driven, low-fee group to air community concerns and provide community entertainment. If your neighborhood association is too structured (managed by an outside group that has no clue what the real needs of the neighborhood are), or non-existent, see how you can get one going.
- Join me in the blogosphere. If you are reading this and thinking about sharing your ideas on urban planning, go ahead. The more citizen voices that exist, then more decision-makers can understand the true reach of the market for certain activities and living areas.
- Start a business in an underused area. I’d prefer that it would be a green business, but any business that treats employees fairly or adds life to an inner city area that appears to be lifeless is good. Encourage your employees and supporters to give back to the community as well.
- Read the Tactical Urbanism guide and get a project started– There are so many great projects in this book. Although these are mostly temporary projects, some that have become permanent. Also, you don’t need a license or talent just a will to see the project through and a few friends who do have the talent or license. The idea is that urbanism is not just for those with large, sweeping multi-block or acre city plans, but plans that are smaller and cheaper and still transform and create great places.
However, because we are talking about grassroots strategies, there are plenty more ways one can get involved. Share with me your ways of getting involved in planning and urban development, besides drawing the plans themselves.