Thanks to all of you, 2015 was a remarkable year at Neighborland. We launched new projects in Oakland, San Jose, Raleigh, Akron, and Atlanta, and expanded our strategic partnership with the City of San Francisco’s Planning Department. We also announced a new partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Hundreds of thousands of people participated on Neighborland in 2015. People shared their insights, volunteered their time, and donated money to help make great projects happen across the U.S. Many of our projects from last year are now in the “delivery” phase. It’s inspiring to see project ideas implemented by our city agency, foundation, non-profit, and university partners. Given that our mission is to help residents shape the development of their communities, we’re thrilled to say that 2015 was our most successful year to date.
Our partners have continued to help us build better tools for collaborating with the public in a meaningful way. We have recently built new curating, surveying, mapping, donations, and decision-making features that compliment our place-based communications platform. Looking ahead, we will continue to build accessible, action-oriented, easy-to-use tools that support human-centered urban design and planning.
Here are a few of our notable partnerships from 2015:
In June, we announced a new partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. We are helping city agencies build an “inclusive, integrated, and transparent mechanism for communication and coordination between local government and residents.” We’re joining a remarkable group of organizations who are supporting this initiative as platform partners, including the World Bank, MIT, and Microsoft. Learn more about the partnership here.
City of San Francisco Planning
Market Street Prototyping Festival, Central Waterfront and Dogpatch Public Realm Plan, Lower Haight Public Realm Plan
Our partnership with SF Planning began with the Market Street Prototyping Festival. Now, we have started working formally with SF Planning on the Public Realm Plans for Central Waterfront and Dogpatch and Lower Haight. SF Planning has been instrumental in helping us understand the needs of internal urban design and planning teams, and we’re thankful for their strategic partnership.
A key input for the Central Waterfront and Dogpatch Public Realm Plan has been the Dogpatch and Northwest Potrero Hill Green Benefits District’s Vision Plan from 2013. The Green Benefits District is a community-led property-assessment district that funds maintenance and improvements of neighborhood parks, playgrounds, plazas, sidewalks and a wide range of other public space amenities. Many thanks to Build Public for leading this innovative approach.
City of San Francisco Administrator
Central Market and Tenderloin Community Benefit Agreements with Twitter, Zendesk, Spotify, Microsoft, and Zoosk
In 2015 San Francisco City Administrator Naomi Kelly signed new Community Benefit Agreements (CBA) with several companies located in Central Market including Twitter, Zendesk, Zoosk, Spotify, Microsoft. We helped the City Administrator collect local civic leaders and residents’ insights about how these companies could best support their most pressing needs.
Neighborland was at the heart of the engagement strategy as stakeholders’ insights were collected, mapped, uploaded to a project site on the Neighborland platform. This project site allowed the coalition to easily survey the proposals and make decisions about how to allocate over $15m in money, volunteers, and services to local non-profits.
Our City Oakland
Our City, City of Oakland, Mayor Libby Schaaf, Super Bowl 50 Fund, Bank of the West, James Irvine Foundation, MOCHA
Our City and the City of Oakland invited residents to imagine, build, and celebrate the future of Downtown Oakland with a focus on the theme of play. Opportunities collected on Neighborland helped inform the selection process, and the twelve winners were selected by a local jury. Winning project teams includedGensler, Morelab, and Sheena Lee. Each team was given funding to prototype a public design installation that would encourage kids, families, residents, and visitors of all ages to play in new ways. The three day event engaged over 1000 residents in public space and on Neighborland. Learn more about Our City and this innovative program model.
City of Atlanta Planning
Turner Field Redevelopment with Perkins+Will, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Regional Commission, Annie Casey Foundation, Kimley-Horn, HR&A, AFCRA and Contente Consulting
We’re currently helping the City of Atlanta Planning Department collect resident insights on the redevelopment of Turner Field, the former Braves Stadium, in Downtown Atlanta. The 67-acre site is one of the largest redevelopment projects happening in any major US city, and we’re helping the City of Atlanta implement their broad-based engagement strategy. We’re thrilled to be included on the project team with some of the most well-respected urban planning firms in the world including Perkins + Will, Kimley Horn, and HR&A.
City of San Jose
Greenbelt Alliance, Street Plans, City of San Jose
Greenbelt Alliance and the Street Plans Collaborative are working with residents and business owners to jump-start implementation of the community vision for the the West San Carlos Urban/South Bascom urban villages with two tactical urbanism demonstration projects. Tactical Urbanism refers to a city, organizational, or citizen-led approach to neighborhood building using short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions intended to catalyze long-term change.
University of California Berkeley
Berkeley Undergraduate Initiative Steering Committee led by Vice Chancellors Catherine Koshland and Harry LeGrand
In the spring of 2015, we worked closely with Vice Chancellors Catherine Koshland and Harry LeGrand on the Berkeley Undergraduate Initiative. Partnering with the Street Plans Collaborative, we designed, planned, and facilitated a charrette with 68 undergraduate students to introduce the initiative, share the Steering Committee’s thinking to-date, and listen to students’ ideas and answer their questions. All of the data collected at the charrette was uploaded to a Neighborland project site, and we provided in-depth data analysis and reporting for the Undergraduate Initiative.
SFMTA, SF Beautiful
Muni Art is SF Beautiful’s first installment of the Place Art program. Neighborland was thrilled to be part of this innovative project by supporting the artist application and voting process. Over 130 applications from artists were received, and more than five thousand votes were cast in just one week. Artists easily built support by sharing their Neighborland project pagewith their friends. Neighborland’s easy-to-use, responsive site allowed people to check out the project on-the-go, with over 50% of the traffic coming from mobile devices. In November, Muni Art filled 50 buses with the winning art, promoting emerging artists, engaging the public, and enhancing the daily commute for those 700,000 daily riders who live and do business in San Francisco.
Hunter Franks, City of Akron, Knight Foundation
Artist Hunter Franks was commissioned to engage Akron residents around the re-use of an underutilized stretch of freeway. Franks designed, planned, and hosted a meal for 500 local residents on the closed freeway to share their stories and thoughts about how the space could best be redeveloped. Residents’ suggestions from the event were then uploaded to a Neighborland project where residents continued to share insights on how to turn these big ideas into a reality.
John Muir Elementary School
SF PEPS, Community Initiatives
In 2015, we were proud to welcome John Muir Elementary School as our first-ever public school partner on Neighborland. Together, San Francisco’s Public Engagement for Public Schools (PEPS) and the school started a conversation with its school community as well as surrounding neighbors in the Upper Market, Fillmore, Lower Haight, and Hayes Valley districts in Central San Francisco.
The school engaged its neighbors asking a question: How can John Muir Elementary be a good neighbor to you? Almost 100 community members and residents have already participated, and PEPS plans to further connect with neighbors at a community arts show. Popular ideas to better connect the school with neighbors have included volunteering from surrounding technology companies, tutoring, street safety improvements, and more. We’re excited to help reimagine a community school in San Francisco as a civic institution that can inspire change inside as well as in its surrounding neighborhood.
University of San Francisco, Middle Circle, St. Cyprian’s Church
Over the past two years, Now! organizers have recruited civic leaders and residents to co-create a week long festival in the Panhandle. Thousands of people have contributed to the festival, which has included free yoga workshops, silent discos, acoustic jam sessions, book talks, cookie swaps and beyond. The spring festival will be April 16th — 22nd. Join us!
Studio for Urban Projects, SF Planning
Building on the success of the Market Street Prototyping Festival held in spring 2015, the Central Market Showcase brought back a collection of projects for one month to one of San Francisco’s most dense, urban neighborhoods — Central Market .
The Outpost project performed as both an installation and an event in a neighborhood without much access to vibrant open spaces. For four weeks, programming like lunch-time discussions, film screenings and workshops all provoked new ways to interact with nature, enhanced the life of the street, served neighborhood residents, and connected it all to active transportation.
Make it Matter
Matt Tomasulo is an urban planner and entrepreneur based in Raleigh, N.C. Matt’s Walk Your City project has helped dozens of communities across the world improve their walkability. In 2015, Matt ran for Raleigh City Council and engaged with Raleigh residents on Neighborland.
Matt won 30%+ of votes in some downtown neighborhoods, and although he did not win the at large seat, the success of his campaign impressed the City Council members of Raleigh. The Council recently appointed Matt to the city’s official Planning Commission. Congratulations Matt!
Here are a few updates from some of partnerships whose work continued into 2015 …
Market Street Prototyping Festival
San Francisco Planning Department, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, The Knight Foundation, Gehl Studio, Exploratorium, Autodesk
The Market Street Prototyping Festival launched in April of 2015, and engaged over 250,000 residents in San Francisco as part of a $450m capital improvement of Market Street in 2018. SF Planning and YBCA are currently assessing feedback from the public on the projects, and are applying urban prototyping strategies across neighborhoods and public space in San Francisco. People all across the U.S., and in 85 countries across the globe, participated in the festival on Neighborland, raising awareness of urban prototyping as an emerging best practice for urban design and planning. We wrote a case study on the project, and highly recommend Gehl Studio’s evaluation of the project.
City of SF Office of Economic and Workforce Development, SF Beautiful, Department of Public Works
This past year, the San Francisco Department of Public Works continued their thoughtful activation of UN Plaza by introducing a series of open-air public art fairs called Art Night SF. These fairs featured over 30 exhibitors and garnered the emphatic support for San Francisco’s local art scene. Here’s a case study that describes how we supported the Office of Economic and Workforce Development’s planning work that has informed the programming of the plaza.
Wayne State University
President M. Roy Wilson, Office of Economic Development
Last year, Wayne State University President Roy Wilson and the Office of Economic Development launched an innovative placemaking program which engaged over 500 stakeholders at a series of events and online via SMS,Twitter, and Neighborland. It has been inspiring to watch their team test these ideas with lightweight interventions and demonstrations on campus. Over the past year, they have deployed more outdoor furniture, green spaces, bike racks, and a public bicycle air and repair station on campus. Many thanks to Wayne State foradvocating for better bike infrastructure in Detroit.
Greenbelt Alliance, City of Mountain View, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Knight Foundation, Health Trust, and Google
Insights from Greenbelt Alliance’s Public Square project helped inform the City of Mountain Views’ strategic plans, including the El Camino Real Precise Plan and the North Santa Clara County Bike Vision Plan. Both of these plans will enhance the quality of life for Mountain View residents for years to come. Google had an opportunity to make a meaningful, lasting contribution to their hometown by funding the research and creation of a comprehensive bike vision plan. Read the full history of the project here.
Making it Happen
Neighbors coming together to take action on local issues is the reason we created Neighborland. In 2015, we’ve been inspired to see dozens of projects implemented across the U.S.
- The San Francisco Housing Action Coalition took to Neighborland to advocate for more affordable housing options in the city. Their tireless efforts contributed to the passing of Proposition A, a $310 million affordable-housing bond that San Francisco voters overwhelmingly embraced. Prop A will provide new housing for low- and middle-income individuals and families, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities and repair dilapidated public housing for San Francisco’s lowest-income families.
- The SFMTA will begin construction on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco to widen sidewalks, improve public space and lessen transit congestion throughBus Rapid Transit.
- BART has replaced all fabric seats and carpeted flooring with more durable, solid surfaces, and will incorporate active retail operations into unused spaces in train stations.
- With the help of Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP), the City of Detroit’s Department of Transportation and the Henry Ford Health System/Health Alliance Plan, neighbors in Detroit are bringing a bike-share program to the city in 2016.
- The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation put people first in their housing development in Cincinnati with demonstration projects, public office hours, and participatory planning workshops.
- Neighbors in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood rallied for a new pedestrian crossing which opened in November, 2015.
- Creating a ‘bikes yield’ law in San Francisco has been discussed for years by San Francisco neighbors. Finally, legislation encouraged was passed by the Board of Supervisors, but vetoed by Mayor Ed Lee.
- More housing is coming to the Western Addition of San Francisco in the former Harding Theater.
- Residents in Raleigh and Atlanta requested high speed Google Fiber and in 2015 Google delivered.
- Together with the Oakland Museum of California, residents encouraged thereuse of steel from the Bay Bridge for five projects on public display.
- San Francisco Transit Riders Union’s campaign encouraged public officials to ride SFMTA transit for over 250 trips within one week.
- The Golden Gate Avenue Block Safety Group created Four Corner Fridayin the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco to bring attention to the public safety and health challenges in their community.
- With the help of the City of San Francisco in 2012, we asked neighbors how to improve the N-Judah rail turnaround. Today, we’re inspired to see one of the most popular ideas for the area, a mini-garden, thriving because of the the love and support of neighborhood volunteers.
Where we’re headed
We will continue to focus on building better tools for urban planning, tactical urbanism, and participatory budgeting. We are contributing to an evolving practice called “human-centered governance,” described by theLittle Hoover Commission’s report “A Customer-Centric Upgrade for California Government” :
“Rather than simply collecting feedback about services provided or analyzing customer complaints, government agencies should use human-centered design practices to research customer needs to figure out ways to better meet them.”
With this in mind, we will continue to build an “inclusive, integrated, and transparent mechanism for communication and coordination between local government and residents” (Dr. Judith Rodin, The Resilience Dividend).