Several key principles are essential to creating any successful public space. These principles begin with numerous underlying ideas, the first of which is that the community is the expert — the most knowledgeable and best resource for the professionals that are responsible for designing or managing the space. The second is that when one creates a “place,” the entire project needs to be viewed differently. Partnerships are the third basic tenet because anyone who manages a space knows that it...

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Many people think of a community’s resilience as its ability to “bounce back” from disruption, and efforts to build resilience often focus on the impacts of climate change. Climate change is indeed an urgent and existential threat, with untold potential to destroy and disrupt countless lives. But it is not the only crisis we face, nor is preparing for disruption the only way to build resilience. Truly robust community resilience should do more. It should engage and benefit all community members,...

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College students tell me they know how to look someone in the eye and type on their phones at the same time, their split attention undetected. These days, we feel less of a need to hide the fact that we are dividing our attention. In a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of cellphone owners said they had used their phones during the last social gathering they attended. But they weren’t happy about it; 82 percent of...

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There is a powerful social aspect to sharing. It may seem obvious, but it takes two people to share. And sharing works even better with three, five, ten or even 50 people all sharing in group format. Sharing is social. And therefore maintaining healthy social relationships among sharers is a must. Hosting a potluck is a great way to start a neighborhood sharing group. Why a potluck? The potluck is an iconic community gathering experience that symbolically reinforces the idea...

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5. MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO A Community Renaissance is Easier Than you Think It doesn’t take much to start a Renaissance in your neighborhood. In fact, as Dave Marcucci discovered, a simple bench can do the trick. After attending a PPS (Project for Public Spaces) training course in 2005, Marcucci came away inspired by the idea that every neighborhood should have ten great places. He returned home to Mississauga, Ontario determined to make his house, which occupies a prime corner lot, one...

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by Rob Avis, Verge Permaculture, October 23, 2013 North America is full of small dying towns that are loaded with perfectly good infrastructure, cheap lots and small homes on large lots. They have commercial centers, water systems, parks, social structures and are surrounded by cheap to rent – and sometimes own – agricultural land. They are walkable, bikeable, quiet and usually human scaled. It would seem that these would be bursting with young families trying to make a go at...

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Although we have no water shortage here in Cornwall, the permaculture principle that everything is connected to everything else encourages us to be aware of water issues elsewhere. Here is an example of a successful community solution to a drought-prone environment. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hmkgn0nBgk&w=640&h=360] As the world reels under the threat of unrelenting climate change, erratic monsoons and fast depleting groundwater reserves, The Miracle Water Village narrates the inspirational story of impoverished farming community in India that reversed its fortunes through its visionary...

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by Annie Leonard, YES Magazine, August 2013 Consumerism, even when it tries to embrace “sustainable” products, is a set of values that teaches us to define ourselves, communicate our identity, and seek meaning through acquisition of stuff, rather than through our values and activities and our community. Today we’re so steeped in consumer culture that we head to the mall even when our houses and garages are full. We suffer angst over the adequacy of our belongings and amass crushing...

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