The Neighborhood Playbook
Activating Spaces >> Developing Places
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The Plays


The Plays

The Neighborhood Playbook is a field guide for community members and developers that facilitates the activation of spaces with the goal of influencing physical and economic growth in neighborhoods. Our hope is that The Playbook will create more neighborhood amenities where people want to spend time, interact socially, create memorable experiences, and connect with the built and natural environment. It will allow entrepreneurial developers to explore new markets with lower risk en route to developing authentic, lasting investments. Together, developers and everyone else will be able to increase the value of their neighborhoods by making them healthier, more fun places to live.


Play 1: Pick a Space

Most likely, your perfect space is going to seem a little...uninviting to start. Discovering opportunity in blighted or underutilized space takes vision, but you’ve made it this far, so clearly you already have that going for you. As you find spaces that seem promising, you’ll want to look a little closer to make sure they are going to be realistic to use.

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Play 2: Pick an Amenity

Ultimately, it’s the people who will turn your unused space into a vibrant place, so most of your time should be spent focused on creating a space for your audience. And to do that, DETAILS ARE THE SECRET. Details are what make people know you really “get them” and will make them excited to make this amenity a success. Think of it like a wedding, except your neighbors are the guests of honor and you want to make sure everything they see in this space from the food and beer to the music and décor—feels like a reflection of themselves.

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Play 3: Broadcast

Wayfinding can be another place to slip in useful design and creativity in spots that are typically under-used. Use your resources wisely and effectively. What do you have at your disposal to help people find your amenity.

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Play 4: Rethink, Evolve, Repeat

Think about your event. Where did you succeed? Where did you fall short? Take notes and begin to determine if it’s time to build or time to continue developing your amenity.



Play 5: Develop

Whether you’re building on what you’ve done or in some way replacing the space, your early social experiments will drive your brick- and-mortar development work. As you actively tinker with the space, you’ll connect with and recruit a lot of different temporary uses that test the site alongside you. Some may not pan out, some might.. Either way your permanent brick and mortar design will be influenced by this process.

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