Sometimes we want to make change but working within the system is just not getting it done. Sometimes the change we desire just needs a little nudge to get going. And sometimes it's just fun to go rogue, all for the cause of making our cities better.
Sometimes you need some Tactical Urbanism.
My fellow CNU NextGen'rs Mike Lydon (Twitter) and Dan Bartman (Twitter) along with Ronald Woudstra (Twitter) and Aurash Khawarzad (Twitter) have created and published a guide to making immediate change at the block level. Tactical Urbanism, the name of the report and the approach, is a do-it-yourself mashup of Jane Jacobs thinking and the Sons of Liberty tactics. This toolbox is exaclty what is needed for today's urbanist.
Tactical Urbanism is a pattern that features the following five characteristics:
- A deliberate, phased approach to instigating change;
- The offering of local solutions for local planning challenges;
- Short-term commitment and realistic expectations;
- Low-risks, with a possibly a high reward; and
- The development of social capital between citizens and the building of organizational capacity between public-private institutions, non-profits, and their constituents.
The Tacitcal Urbanism approach is all about people intervening in their blocks and neighborhoods to experiment in building stronger towns. While it can be a touch counterculture at times, it is also quite pragmatic. Interventions are typically low scale and low budget, creating a low-stakes model for broader future change. Where local governments embrace the approach, a flood of positive interventions can occur on a limited budget.
While the new urbanism is not so new anymore, it is still full of talented, passionate, and driven people committed to the movement's principles. For those who attended the Bywater/Marigny retreat, the new urbanism is now morphing into the Next Urbanism, which will continue to build from the extraordinary effort led by those who came before us.
If interested, please join the discussion in Madison. We have a lot of work to do.
You can signup for CNU 19 on their website. I concur with Mike and hope you'll join us.