oak_cliff_better_blockWith a few trees, some sidewalk tables, and lots of community input, a Dallas street was transformed.Photo: Go Oak Cliff

Do you have the power to make your city a better place? It might be easier than you think.

The Next Generation of New Urbanists (yes, these are young New Urbanists, because New Urbanism has been around long enough that it’s getting a little … old) and the Street Plans Collaborative want to help. They’ve put together a “Tactical Urbanism” guide that you can download for use when you need some ideas about how to catalyze lasting change in your urban world.

Examples include guerrilla gardening, pop-up cafés, mobile vendors, and “Build a Better Block” projects. Most involve partnership with government agencies or local business owners, but they are almost all things that ordinary folks can initiate. Here’s how the guide’s authors explain the concept of “tactical urbanism”:

[T]actical urbanism interventions create a laboratory for experimentation. Case studies from across North America reveal the benefit of taking an incremental approach to the process of city building. To be sure, long term change often starts with the process of trying something small. Upon implementation, results may be observed and measured in real-time. And when done inexpensively, and with flexibility, adjustments maybe made before moving forward. Indeed, there is real merit in a municipality spending $30,000 on temporary material changes before investing $3,000,000 in those that are permanent. If the improvement doesn’t work as planned, the whole budget will not be shot, and future designs can continue to be calibrated to meet the needs of a particular, and dynamic context.

So — “chair bombing,” anyone?