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WikiCity – How Citizens can Improve their Cities This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional) When governments don’t build infrastructure, citizens usually complain, but can’t do much about it. They pressure public officials and protest against proposed projects, but that’s as far as citizen participation in city building usually goes. It’s reactive, not proactive. However, this model of citizen participation is being rethought by citizens around the world. One example of this type of action is Toronto’s Urban Repair Squad. In Mexico, the movement is called wikiciudad (wikicity), and it has the central idea that anyone can edit and modify cities. In Los Angeles, several different groups have tried to address the lack of seating in the streets. The improvements that citizens are building are not always priorities for local governement, but, however tiny and localized, they do make a difference in the way people feel about and interact with the city’s public space. Images courtesy of diegoehg_ and thinkmo on flickr

Kickstarting Urban Renewal with an Underground Park | New York City on GOOD We’ve been in love with the idea ever since it surfaced last fall: a four-season underground park beneath the hectic streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The concept for the “Delancey Underground” has been drifting around design blogs and New York publications for months now, making lovers of innovative urban space salivate. Now the founders of the project, Dan Barasch and James Ramsey, have turned to Kickstarter, not only to raise funds, but to prove to local government that the public is serious about making the project a reality. If this is the first you’ve heard about it, the Delancey Underground is a concept for transforming a defunct trolley terminal for streetcars coming off the Williamsburg Bridge into public space. The design would preserve the hub's unique, turn-of-the-century features, including cobblestones, rail tracks and vaulted ceilings, while integrating green design technologies, like fiber optic cables to bring natural sunlight underground.

Space Makers Agency Designing Collaboration: New Platform Helps Global Problem-Solvers Share Stories | Poverty on GOOD Social media and other digital platforms have enabled the world's problem-solvers to connect and share solutions like never before. While much of that collaboration is diffuse, spread out across a multitude of websites, blogs, and social networking sites, a new platform designed by (the design consultancy's nonprofit arm) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation seeks to bring tips, ideas, and strategies together into one toolkit and discussion platform for people fighting poverty around the world. The effort is called HCD Connect, and it's designed to open up the field of human-centered design—a technique that uses close listening, empathy, and observation to design solutions for people in extreme poverty—to anyone who needs it. The toolkit is available in hard copy for $21.99 or as a free download. Image courtesy of; Found by hillaryrose

Burning Man and the Metropolis Essay: Nate Berg "Intersection," installation by James Reagant and Charles Fields, 2010. [photo by MadeIn1953 via Flickr] It's not exactly the ideal place to build a city. But year after year in late summer, a small city rises on this ancient lakebed in the Black Rock Desert, in Pershing County in northwestern Nevada. Summer 2010On the first night of the most recent Burning Man, Monday August 30, it is 11 p.m. before I get through the lines at the entrance gates. The next morning, my tent is an oven, so I escape out into the sun and the surreal. Top: Burning Man center camp, 2010. At its core, Burning Man is an artistic event. Burning Man is the sort of place where a man in a monkey suit will drive past in a motorized banana and a naked baby boomer with a megaphone will offer you a vodka tonic as you walk down a dirt street. That this city can exist without major catastrophe is due in large part to the organizational skills of its government. Left: The Man, 2010. Black Rock City, 2005.

In Barcelona, a Living Wall Is More Than Architecture: It's 'Vegitecture' | Environment on GOOD The environmentally-minded designers at Barcelona firm Capella Garcia Arquitectura take the idea of “green living” to heart. Their latest project, helmed by partners Juli Capella and Miguel Garcia, reimagines and reinvents a unsightly wall left behind from a former building demolition. Their solution: a completely natural makeover. Completed in March, the “Green Side-Wall,” promoted by the Barcelona City Council, is a foray into what the firm has christened “vegitecture,” or a vertical garden with emphasis on the structure's original architecture. The main material responsible for bringing a breath of fresh air to the residential area: Plants—oxygen-producing, living green that cascades down the once plain wall. Spanning a height of 21 meters, the vertical garden is supported by a steel structure that stands apart from the building’s façade. via domus

Give a Minute Project Jonathan Schultz Give a Minute homepage features a user interface modeled on Post-it notes. Courtesy Local Projects. One needn’t be a Walden-clutching Luddite to be wary of social media’s creep into the political process. “It doesn’t take a ton of insight to recognize that the existing public participation process does not really work well,” says Jake Barton, founder of Local Projects. His team responded with Give a Minute, a project that encourages urban citizens to organize and act to improve their blocks, stoops, playgrounds, even exercise routines, thereby drawing the attention — and financial support, where appropriate — of city officials. “In our current participation process, the powers that be plop down a plan in front of you,” Barton says. In a pilot program last year, ads in Chicago’s El cars asked passengers, “What would encourage you to walk, bike, or take Chicago Transit Authority more?”

Better Block: Bottom-Up Urban Reboot In a Single Weekend | Neighborhood It's remarkable what some people can accomplish in a single weekend. While others spend those days catching up on lost sleep or exploring their city with friends, Texas-based nonprofit The Better Block uses that time to rally communities to rethink their neighborhoods. Since its inception in 2010 , the project has built temporary dog parks, pop-up shops, urban forests, cafes, and bike lanes. They've left their mark in more than 35 cities including Philadelphia, Wichita, Cleveland, Houston, and Oklahoma City. The organization's next stop: Detroit, where the city's first-ever Better Block project will take place from September 22 to 23 as part of the Detroit Design Festival . Better Block will fill the vacant lots with work from local artists and artisans, food and drinks, and exhibits from nearby venues. Better Block wants to jumpstart local policy shifts. Several other cities this year will get the Better Block treatment: St. Interested in starting a project in your community?

Next American City eco – agro educational center | AL/Arch agro-environmental educational farm at the city of Ramat Gan Developing a 40,000 sqm plan that redefine the farm as an educational farm for environmental studies. The first projects that are currently being implemented are: Educational Recycling Center . Preschool at the Farm. Gabbion entry wall made of waste materials stratigic plan recycling wall landscape urbanism at Kofer stream eco – agro educational center Bike-Share Programs Across the World - Green Transportation This article was reposted with permission from Earth Policy Institute. Politicians, lobbyists, and tourists alike can ride bicycles along a specially marked lane between the White House and the U.S. Cyclists have long entreated drivers to “share the road.” Today more than 500 cities in 49 countries host advanced bike-sharing programs, with a combined fleet of over 500,000 bicycles. Unfortunately, many of those bikes quickly disappeared or were damaged. Modern bike-sharing systems have greatly reduced the theft and vandalism that hindered earlier programs by using easily identified specialty bicycles with unique parts that would have little value to a thief, by monitoring the cycles’ locations with radio frequency or GPS, and by requiring credit card payment or smart-card-based membership in order to check out bikes. Vélib' was launched in 2007 with 10,000 bicycles at 750 stations, and it quickly doubled in size. Other European countries have fewer programs, but some are very active.