The City of Lowell, Massachusetts activates vacant real estate downtown

The City of Lowell, Massachusetts, launches Neighborland

What do people want to see in Lowell, Massachusetts?

As the Director of the Office of Economic Development in Lowell, Massachusetts, Theresa Park often notices public meetings are not typically attended by a wide swatch of people representing the full diversity of opinions and perspectives present in a community. Fortunately, the internet has revolutionized how we communicate with each other, allowing new approaches to tap into a wider audience, which are particularly useful in guiding community planning efforts. The City of Lowell has undergone signification transformation in the past decade and is committed to continuing its growth. Corresponding changes have resulted in new businesses and new residents – but how can Lowell’s municipal economic development office best identify and address changing demands for goods and service?

After watching a talk about sparking conversation in public space by Neighborland co-founder Candy Chang, Theresa was inspired to create a public installation in Lowell. Her goal is to encourage a broader conversation with the residents of Lowell.  With economic development assistant Erin Findlen she found an unused storefront in Downtown Lowell. They ordered a few hundred “I want ____ in my neighborhood” stickers, they applied them to windows, and encouraged residents to share ideas.

Using the stickers, a Sharpie, and directions to continue the conversation on Neighborland; Theresa Park began to see a dialogue in Lowell come alive. The stickers in public space quickly filled up while neighbors also shared ideas and insights on on Neighborland.  A movie theater showing independent films, filling a prominent empty lot with trees, opening a farm-to-table restaurant, free Wi-Fi access, and  expanded farmers market hours were just a few of the most popular ideas collected.

As the community manager for the project, Erin began to connect residents with people already working to improve the city of Lowell.  Residents picked up on the importance of sharing insights and resources, and organizations like the Lowell Film Collective and the farmers market were invited to participate in the collective dialogue. Organizations already taking action like the Lowell Film Collaborative and the local farmers market were updated and  added resources to help neighbors take action.

Over the past few weeks, Theresa and Erin have started a meaningful dialogue about the development of Lowell. Hundreds of neighbors are participating in the conversation and are now focused on turning these ideas into action.

How to order stickers

Neighborland Stickers

Encourage sharing ideas that matter in your neighborhood using Neighborland stickers. We offer two designs: “I want ____ in my neighborhood” and “I wish this was” based on our co-founder Candy Chang’s original project. We also design custom stickers on request. Contact us with any questions.

Each sticker is a 4.5″ x 3″ rounded-corner rectangle, printed on white vinyl with split paper backing. They are non-destructive, easy to remove, and suitable for outdoor use with a life expectancy of approximately 3 years.

Purchase stickers with a credit card on Square here or send us payment via Paypal.  Neighborland’s “I want ___” and “I Wish This Was” stickers are $2/each (minimum order of 100 stickers, includes shipping USPS Priority Mail). Custom stickers start at $3/each, and decrease in price for orders over 500 stickers. When you send your payment total to us via Paypal (, we will confirm your shipping address via email. Please allow 3 business days production time and  3-5 business days for  shipping in the US.

“I want ___ in my neighborhood” 

100 Neighborland Stickers

“I wish this was” 

100 "I Wish This Was" stickers

Custom design (with printed back)

100 Custom Stickers

Mobile Whiteboards:

Often organizations running campaigns fabricate mobile whiteboards that can be re-used to collect input in public space. If you are interested in fabricating a board like this, contact us and we’ll send you design instructions for your local fabricator.

Greenbelt in Mountain View

DIY Toolkit:

We have also created a free toolkit of design files if you would like to print stickers or signage yourself. You can view and download it here. The toolkit includes files of “I want ____ in my neighborhood” signs and stickers as well as logos that can be customized for location as well as language.

League of Awesome Possibilities’s public installation in Ravenswood, Chicago

The SFMTA launches #Safer6th campaign

How can we create a safer 6th Street in Central Market?

Safer 6th Street is a collaboration between the SFMTA, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, SPUR, Twitter, and URBAN SPACEship to address the issue of safety in the 6th Street corridor. The coalition gathered input from the local community as to what can be done to create a safer area for residents, workers and passersby alike.

NJudah Project
On Saturday, May 18th, the Safer 6th Street Coalition hosted an interactive activation project on 6th Street (between Market and Stevenson), to engage the community and gather ideas and feedback towards making 6th Street a safer place.

Photos by Sergio Ruiz, SPUR

The goal of the activation was to envision a vibrant area and help to prioritize treatments to the 6th Street design.

Projects from RebarArtismobilus, and the SF Postcard Project livened up 6th Street for the day. Ideas were collected with the Neighborland public whiteboard and on the Neighborland Question page.

We also launched a new capability for residents to tweet “I want ____  #safer6th” and have their idea automagically created on Neighborland.

This is an on-going community process to implement safety measures in the 6th Street corridor. The public is encouraged to participate in the project by following these initiatives:

Sixth Street Improvement Project led by SFMTA, for permanent traffic calming and pedestrian improvements in the corridor

Supervisor Jane Kim’s District 6 Pedestrian Safety Workgroup, which has been advocating for traffic calming on Sixth Street for the past several years

• Activation projects led by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Workforce and Development

• The recent establishment of The Sixth Street Safety Hub, an SFPD sub-station

Ideas and insights collected on Neighborland will be considered in conjunction with the SFMTA’s traditional planning forums.

» See popular ideas for a safer 6th Street


We want a better Detroit.


“Being a shrinking city and a quintessential modern site in flux, Detroit is a testing ground for experimentation and rethinking.”

― Luis A. Croquer

On Tuesday June 18, Neighborland co-founder Candy Chang spoke at the first Van Dusen Lecture Series in Detroit. The event,  Joy: in the Midst of Transition, focused on how activities that use joy can be an organizing principle in cities like Detroit. Candy, who studied at the University of Michigan, said the creativity and music she experienced during visits to Detroit  inspired her work 

We’re excited people are already sharing ideas on local issues in Detroit and taking action on Neighborland. From improved public transportation, protected bike lanes on East Jefferson Avenue, and preserving the city’s architectural heritage; the issues that matter most to neighbors in Detroit are surfacing. If you have ideas to make Detroit better, share them here and start gathering support.

Here’s some more information about Neighborland and how it works.




URBAN SPACEship activates a forgotten piece of public space


Kids from the neighborhood use cardboard & colorful duct tape to build temporary seating

Urban collective URBAN SPACEship wants to encourage social interaction in a neighborhood public space in NYC.

A group of urbanists, bound together only by their love of cities and public space, volunteered their time to plan and execute an intervention to activate a forlorn concrete plaza in front of a neighborhood branch of the Queens Library as part of GOOD’s inaugural Neighborday celebration.


SPACEshippers brainstorming in early March 2013

URBAN SPACEship’s Story:
In returning to New York after living abroad for several years, Leemor Chandally was looking for ways to connect with other urbanists who were interested in the kinds of hands-on, DIY projects that she was into. To build that network, she created the MeetUp group URBAN SPACEship, which met once a month starting in the summer of 2012 to hear a guest lecture and discuss different ideas for activating urban spaces. After observing this vigorous discussion, Chandally partnered with Neighborland to invite SPACEship’s members to share their ideas for how to encourage social interaction between people in a local public space, with the aim of actually pushing a crowdsourced idea to implementation.

Through a series of gatherings in February and March of 2013, the group discussed the various ideas that had been shared via the Neighborland site. Everything from light installations to storytelling was discussed. The group faced the challenge of organizing a diffuse membership of people who were all juggling busy schedules. Eventually, after working through several different iterations of an early idea to build a dome structure, a core group of dedicated SPACEshippers re-focused the project on its initial goal–to spark interaction between neighbors–and came up with a plan to turn a forgotten scrap of paved-over public space next to a library branch in the Astoria section of Queens into an interactive neighborhood gathering place.


The space in question is rarely used, and very beige

Working with the library’s blessing (obtained through a member of the group, who manages a compost drop-off program at the branch), the SPACEshippers showed up on April 27th, 2013–the first official Neighborday–armed with dozens of cans of spray chalk, a pallet of discarded & collapsed cardboard boxes, and armfuls of Neighborland stickers. The idea was not just to add amenities to the space and make it more visually appealing, but to involve the locals directly in the space’s transformation. The first order of business, then, was to create and put up a large sign reading “I’m your public space…Create me!”

photo 3

“The idea was not just to add amenities to the space and make it more visually appealing, but to involve the locals directly in the space’s transformation.”

The event was an unqualified success. More than a hundred neighbors stopped to help build chairs out of the cardboard, create pieces of a sidewalk mural, contribute ideas for how to make Astoria an even better neighborhood, and just sit and chat with friends new and old. Several musicians even showed up to entertain the crowd, and at one point a five piece band, complete with a harpist, played while neighbors danced. The spray chalk was a huge hit with local kids, many of whom broke into huge smiles upon rounding the corner to find what they knew as a drab corner re-made as a colorful playground.


Neighbors queued up all afternoon to express their hopes & desires for Astoria


The space activation included everything from musical performances (back right) to a compost drop-off organized by the library (front right)


And we hope to bring you more of them, neighbor!

We’re super-impressed with the SPACEshippers’ tenacity and creativity, and we can’t wait to see what they tackle next. You can join their MeetUp group if you’re in the New York area, or check out another initiative that we’re working on with Leemor out in San Francisco.

New Museum promotes idea exchange at IDEAS CITY StreetFest in NYC.

IDEAS CITY - Neighborland

What would you love to see on the Lower East Side?

Festival-goers of the 2013 IDEAS CITY StreetFest, hosted by the New Museum in Lower Manhattan, were invited to share their ideas on what they’d like to see changed, improved, or otherwise altered in NYC.

IDEAS CITY explores the future of cities around the globe with the belief that arts and culture are essential to the vitality of urban centers, making them better places to live, work, and play.

IDEAS CITY - Neighborland

Neighborland installed an interactive billboard and distributed stickers to get the conversation started on the street. Residents shared a wide-range of info including housing needs, community greening solutions, ideas for public space, and more.

Select ideas have been uploaded on Neighborland – where anyone can discuss their feasibility, share insights, or identify ways to solve issues.

"More public gardens"

“More public gardens”

"Community BBQ tables"

“Community BBQ tables”

"More green areas" & "Green markets"

“More green areas” & “Green markets”

"Later construction start times"

“Later construction start times”

"More places for dogs to go to the bathroom"

“More places for dogs to go to the bathroom”

"These stickers"

“These stickers”

"More interesting things to do"

“More interesting things to do”

"More benches on sidewalks"

“More benches on sidewalks”

"Clean sidewalks" & "Composting"

“Clean sidewalks” & “Composting”

» See popular ideas shared at IDEAS CITY


How to set up your Neighborland home page

Your home page provides the latest updates on ideas you support, your friends’ activity, and popular ideas in your city.

1. Sign In to Neighborland

When you sign up, you set your home city. When you first sign in, you’ll see ideas in your city and nearby.

2. Follow people

Follow people to see their latest ideas and contributions. On your computer, you can mouse over a person and click “Follow”. On your mobile device, you can click on a person and then click “Follow”.

3. Add or support an idea

Click the big green “Me Too” button when you see an idea you like! Anytime you add or Me Too an idea, you’ll see when others support it or propose an action such as a fun event, useful news, or a way to solve the problem.

How to propose an action

When you Sign In to Neighborland, every idea page asks: “How can you help?” Directly below, you’ll find an input field for adding a resource, event, petition, or fundraiser.

How can you help?

Share helpful information about the idea and we will format it nicely for you. Click the camera to add a picture.

1. Share a Resource, Petition, or Fundraiser
Share information and links to projects, places and people that are already working to make an idea happen.

Example – East Bay Bike Coalition shares a link with progress on an issue:

East Bay Bike

Example – DTLA Families shares a link to a fundraiser to build a fence:

Build a Fence

2. Create an Event
To create an event, click the calendar icon on the lower left. Then post details for a new or existing meeting. Include a date, time, location and purpose of the meeting.

Example: Anders adds a meeting for a fun new group:

New Event

SCMS helps reforest the St. Claude corridor in New Orleans.

Live Oaks along St. Claude Avenue

NOLA neighbors want big green trees on St. Claude Avenue.

St. Claude Main Street donates $2500 to the “Reforest St. Claude” project and canvasses the corridor to identifying businesses that may want to buy a tree to go in front of their building.

The Reforest St. Claude Project:
St. Claude Main Street (SCMS) is partnering with Parkway Partners and other neighborhood organizations on the “Reforest St. Claude” project. As part of the Parkway Partner’s ReLeaf program, this tree planting effort along St. Claude Avenue seeks to achieve a goal of two Live Oaks per block from St. Bernard to Poland Avenue — a roughly 2 mile stretch in the Marigny, St. Roch, and Bywater neighborhoods of New Orleans.

This community-based initiative is working to restore the Live Oak canopy that once lined the city corridor. Live Oaks are an iconic part of New Orleans and are well suited for standing up to hurricanes and urban conditions, sometimes living over 300 years. The restoration effort will enhance the quality of life in these neighborhoods – improving air quality, reducing heat, and helping manage stormwater runoff.

Live Oaks along St. Claude Avenue

Live Oaks along St. Claude Avenue in 1953. Source:

Renovations at St. Claude Ave and St. Roch Ave

Renovations at St. Claude Ave and St. Roch Ave.

St. Claude Main Street is identifying businesses that may want to buy a tree to go in front of their building for the first phase of the project which will focus on the space between the street and sidewalks. For the first twenty St. Claude businesses to sign-up, SCMS will split the cost of the tree package, reducing the total cost to $125.

“We’re excited to be working with Parkway Partners and St. Claude businesses to plant live oaks along St. Claude Avenue. Our city is a hot one for a large portion of the year; we hope that by providing more shade on St. Claude Avenue people will choose to spend more of their days walking along the street and supporting the local economy.”Michael Martin, SCMS Manager

Residents can also volunteer to help by adopting a tree to plant and/or maintain.

» View a map of St. Claude tree plantings up for adoption.


Mike & Justin host a mapping party to locate DIY street seats in NYC.


16 neighbors want a collaborative mapping party to map street seats in Manhattan.

After creating, Mike Lydon and Justin Brandon used Neighborland to gauge interest in a mapping party, and then planned a group event to map DIY seating in lower Manhattan.


Mike & Justin’s Story:
Both Mike and Justin had been pondering the idea of a web tool for mapping New York City’s many inventive, creative, and otherwise colorful street seats for several years before they decided to tackle the project together. Both trained as urban planners, they recognized the DIY attitude that New Yorkers take to providing sidewalk seating options for each other as a unique trait that adds a great deal of character to the cityscape. From businesses setting out all manner of benchery to snag tired passersby in front of window displays, to residents building tree stands with flat shelves for sitting and chatting with their neighbors, New York’s street seats are as diverse as they are ubiquitous.


After launching the site, which allows anyone to snap a pic of a street seat, document its location, and submit it to the site for inclusion on the citywide map, Justin & Mike wanted to host a mapping party to jump-start the documentation process. With more than 6,000 miles of street in New York; that translates to quite a lot of seats! They used Neighborland to test the waters, and after getting a strong initial response from the city’s amateur cartographers, organized an event on Saturday, April 6th.


About two dozen mappers gathered in Union Square on what happened to be the first true spring Saturday, and after a quick round of instructions from Mike & Justin on how to document street seats (and what constitutes a DIY seat vs. an official, city-sanctioned bench or sidewalk cafe table seating, which don’t count for the project’s purposes) each received a chunk of the city and headed out in small groups for a few hours of fun in the sun.


In all, the group documented more than a hundred street seats around the city in just one afternoon! Afterward, everyone gathered at The Magician, a bar on the Lower East Side, to drink some beers, chat with some other map geeks, and watch a slideshow of the many photos snapped of street seats around lower Manhattan that afternoon.

Wish you could have made it? After the success of the first event, Justin & Mike are already planning on hosting a second; after all, there’s a lot of city left to map!

» Show your support for mapping parties in Manhattan & receive updates on future events.