Give your town a beauty makeover, if your council doesn’t have the vision to do it. Beautifying a town does not require much money, often just some vision, a bit of education, permission and a few willing volunteers. Start with a litter clean-up then get to work.
DIY City: The Collective Power of Small Actions is a book looking at how working on a small-scale, is often the best way to change a town. There are great examples of New Towns and Garden Cities worldwide, but these grand plans are usually the exception, rather than the rule. By urban planner Hank Dittmar, also read My Kind of City.
Recast your City looks at how we can take back towns from corporate giants. So instead of focusing ‘economic development’ by recruiting a big company like Amazon (or a car builder), we focus on small-scale businesses to make a place prosper. This work may be uncomfortable (telling Amazon to get out of town!) But it’s necessary if we don’t end up in a world where the only shops are Tesco and Primark. Drawing from work already done in US cities, the book shows how reinvest in pop-up shops and markets, to create inclusive economic opportunity.
Creating Green Spaces in Cities
De-paving is pretty big in the US (especially in Portland) where you can download a free How to Depave guide, to help you do it right. It basically involves a community of volunteers removing unused car parks and asphalt, and using the space to plant free community green spaces, whether that’s food or flowers or trees or all three.
If gardening alongside animal friends, learn how to make your garden safe for pets (to avoid toxic plants, trees, flowers and other items) and know toxic houseplants to avoid (even brushing a tail against sago palm, lilies or cheese plants can harm). Also don’t display foliage to face windows, to help stop birds flying into windows.
- Rivers of Flowers is a non-profit social enterprise that aims to inspire and inform others to plant ‘rivers’ of wildflowers and wild flowering trees’ in urban landscapes to feed, shelter, protect and heal bees and other pollinators. They use bio-indicators to detect polluted city streets, then plant to reduce air pollution.
- Cities for Life is a book that asks what would happen, if cities actively worked to promote the healing of all residents? Cities often contribute to traumas that cause stress with insecure housing, few playgrounds, environmental pollution and unsafe streets. Some cities are now investing more in peacemaking and parks than policing, focusing on community decisions rather than data surveillance. And changing regulations to permit more libraries over liquor stores – and building more affordable housing than highways.