Activate Your Neighborhood

Neighborhoods across the country are using creative ideas to improve the areas they love. With placemaking projects and events, neighborhoods can bring people together and create unique economic, cultural and learning opportunities.

If you'd like this guide in a printable format for your next neighborhood meeting, you can download the PDF below.


Download Full Guide (PDF)

What is Placemaking?

Placemaking is a way to highlight your neighborhood’s unique character, assets and potential. It can turn a physical space into a desirable, livable and inviting place by using the vision of the people who live and work in an area, along with the support of community partners. It brings diverse people together, livens up spaces, provides opportunities for social activities, stimulates local businesses and energizes our neighborhoods.

Quick Start Guide

Starting an initiative to activate your neighborhood can feel like a daunting task. Energize is here to provide resources to help you get started. Below are options and ideas other neighborhoods have had success with. Always remember to make each element unique to your neighborhood.

Neighborhood Events

  • Street Fair / Market: Imagine a warm summer evening strolling through a colorful plaza filled with people, music and vendors. You can bring that to your own street with a food festival, arts and crafts market or a street fair.
  • Neighborhood Cleanup: Organize residents and volunteers to pick up garbage, clean graffiti, paint or remove overgrown weeds.
  • Scavenger Hunt:  Highlight your neighborhood and involve local
    businesses and organizations. Mix up teams for a great "neighbor building" exercise.
Two women talking to a man behind a booth
2016's LIV District Celebration
People riding bikes
Tour de Fat
  • Neighborhood Social: Get neighbors together once a month. Try a potluck, a pancake breakfast or a movie night!
  • Block Party: Plan block parties around a theme, season, or holiday. Get creative with activities, games, food, contests, prizes and resources. Reserve the city’s block party trailer for your event.
  • Outdoor Game Night: Pick a host location, have everyone bring their favorite game and enjoy a fun evening.
  • Neighborhood Barter / Swap: Organize a ‘swap’ to discover the goods and services your neighbors can provide, then start bartering! For example, can you design a website in return for getting your house painted?
  • Neighborhood Lending Library: Create an inventory of neighborhood items that residents are willing to share. Include tools, yard equipment, appliances or sporting goods.
  • Volunteer Projects: Get a group of neighbors together to volunteer for a specific group or event. You’ll strengthen relationships with your neighbors while giving back to the community.

Art + Music

  • Traffic Box Art: Many neighborhoods work with the city to ‘wrap’ their utility/traffic boxes in artwork, which livens up an industriallooking corner or street.
  • Sidewalk Chalk Art: A great way to turn grey, concrete sidewalks into works of art! Make chalk art an ongoing neighborhood activity with team contests or an create an annual festival.
  • Public Art: Use statues, installations or sculptures to create a hidden wonder in your own neighborhood.
  • Pop-Up Art / Music / Dance: Put up a temporary exhibit, organize a concert or designate a space for a performance. Get creative with outdoor karaoke, a drum/music circle, group music or dance lessons.
  • Gateways / Signage: Signage lets people know they’re in your neighborhood. Use art to highlight the area’s history and identity, and combine signage with landscaping to welcome people to your neighborhood.
Traffic box
Traffic Box Art

Green Your Neighborhood

  • Community Garden, Urban Forest: Convert a neglected space into a pocket garden or tiny ‘forest’ with a bench or two. No space is too small! Neighbors can come together to plant flowers, trees and veggies and watch them grow. Create a group to maintain the space.
  • Pop-Up Park: Check out how “Park(ing) Day” has become an annual global event where citizens turn a metered parking spot into a temporary park.
  • Green a Streetscape: Add flowers, plants and trees to ‘green up’ a street. Plant small sections or add sidewalk planters to add character and visual appeal.

Shared Spaces + Services

Group of people looking over a valley
Collister Walking Tour
  • Wayfinding: Work with the city and your neighborhood association to create signs along streets/paths to indicate nearby areas of interest, such as ‘2-minute walk to the Library.’
  • Design a Walking Tour: Map a 1-2-mile loop around your house and mark all of the amenities and destination places. Make it viewable to neighbors and the public.
  • Design a Bike Tour: Start a biking club with your neighbors and develop different routes around your neighborhood.
  • Neighborhood Open House: Rotate homes or have designated repeat houses. Create different themes and make it a neighborhood staple for events like evening art shows, ‘how-to’ demonstrations or potlucks.
  • Workshop Series: Bring educational workshops to your neighborhood. Ideas include financial literacy, home maintenance/ repair, city resources, weatherization, resume-building and interview skills.
  • Identify Neighborhood Resources: create a strong community. Include businesses, organizations and physical spaces, as well as resident’s skills, talents and professional networks. These assets will help you maximize partnerships and engagement for events and projects.

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