A barren intersection becomes a brightly painted community art project. A lonely curbside parkway gains a bench swing. A brownfield welcomes a picnic shelter. This is the Village Building Convergence, a set of community-built projects in Portland, Ore. through which people are transforming their town's public spaces, and reclaiming the notion of what it means to be a neighbor along the way.
As Mark Lakeman, the VBC's founder puts it, "This plants the seeds for localizing our economy, our politics and our culture. This is where the placemaking process begins."
Every year winter, people begin gathering, putting together visions of the neighborhoods they want, and designing the projects that will make them a reality. By spring, the work starts: The citizen-planners come out in droves to begin digging, planting, lifting, sawing, and painting.
But all that work comes with some sweet rewards: "I got my feet dirty, and a smile on my face," says one VBC participant.
Interview with Mark Lakeman of the City Repair Project
Who says cities have to be islands of concrete?