The neighborhood is the basic building block of human civilization, whether in a big city, small town or suburban community. It’s also the place where you can have the most influence in making a better world.

These suggestions, drawn from my book The Great Neighborhood Book (a collaboration with Project for Public Spaces) are focused on strengthening the sense of community and spirit of the commons by providing people with ways to come together as friends, neighbors and citizens. That creates a firm foundation that enables a neighborhood to solve problems and seize opportunities. This is drawn from a presentation I regularly give to community, civic, academic, professional and business groups. For more information, see Jay Walljasper.com.

  1. Give people a place to hang-out
  2. Give people something to see
  3. Give people something to do
  4. Give people a place to sit down
  5. Give people a safe, comfortable place to walk
  6. Give people a safe, comfortable place to bike
  7. Give people reliable, comfortable public transportation
  8. Make the streets safe—from crime
  9. Make the streets safe—from traffic
  10. Remember the streets belong to everyone—not just motorists
  11. Don’t forget about the needs of older neighbors
  12. Don’t forget about the needs of kids
  13. Let your community go to the dogs
  14. Reclaim front yards as social spaces
  15. Remember the best neighborhoods, even in big cities, feel like villages
  16. Plan for winter weather as well as sunny, warm days
  17. Don’t fear density—people enjoy being around other people
  18. Don’t give up hope—great changes are possible when neighbors get together
  19. Build on what’s good in your community to make things even better
  20. Remember the power of the commons: people working together for the benefit of everyone in the neighborhood.
  21. Never underestimate the power of a shared meal to move people into action
  22. Start with small steps—like planting flowers
  23. Become a community booster, watchdog, patriot
  24. Learn from other neighborhoods in your town and around the world
  25. Take the time to have fun and enjoy what’s already great about your neighborhood
Jay Walljasper


Jay Walljasper

Jay Walljasper writes and speaks about cities and the commons. He is editor of OnTheCommons.org and author of All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons and The