Building the World We Want: City Repair and Mark Lakeman

After hearing a talk by Mark Lakeman of City Repair, I feel completely inspired and hopeful that we can start a community and take hold of the place we live.  It’s the perfect time to get this project started. This talk helped me see that many of the obstacles are not what they seem, and realize that we do have the capacity to make these ideas happen.  The examples of what is possible broke down my assumptions what is needed to do the things I want to do.

Grab the taproot, stand your ground, and commit to place!

The examples of what has happened in Portland are much more than changing physical spaces, which I had thought.  The projects, such as tea houses and murals, are the result of neighborhoods coming together, not the other way around.  It started with small ideas, and people helping support each other.  It gained momentum and led to community potlucks, and everyone getting to know one another.  This was the key – once you have the awareness of so many different people, you have ways to advocate for projects in ways that one person would not be able to do alone.  If a whole block wants to mulch its leaves or paint an intersection, the city starts to listen and the rules start to change.  It was amazing to see the pictures of neighborhoods transforming how people, plants, water, and structures move, changing a block into a sustainable, friendly, safe place to be.

Placemaking Guidebook
Articles about City Repair

Mark started by putting our Western cities into context: when we moved through the Americas to colonize and settle, our city plans lacked city centers, the heart of most cities and towns around the world.  Without such spaces, we live separate lives, and this really rings true in Los Angeles.  I am identified as a consumer, moving through the world through products and services I purchase, and small spaces I rent.  The spaces welcome shoppers, and people who don’t have this purpose or spaces are made to feel unwelcome.  Many of our designs are built on what we don’t want, keeping people out, rather than thinking of better solutions for our shared problems.  We need common spaces to help us feel a sense of connection to our city.

Now is the time to change our cities into what we want.