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New People’s Design Library Helps Kickstart Neighborhood DIY Projects

Stop putting off that urban DIY project you’re always talking about

Community activists, urban design advocates, and engaged neighbors have a new resource for helping reimagine and reshape their neighborhoods. Launched a few weeks ago by the Texas-based buildingcommunityWORKSHOP (bcWORKSHoP), a nonprofit community design center, the People’s Design Library contains a selection of DIY guides, with step-by-step instructions to help create a community park, stage a PARK(ing) Day event, or set up a free community library.

"With public interest design, there’s a skill set and process required," says Lizzie MacWillie, the organization’s senior design manager. "These guides are helpful in understanding some of the grassroots planning work that’s possible."

Based on the belief that people have the right to design their city, the library concept came out of conversations bcWORKSHOP has had during previous community meetings. Founded in 2007, the group has been engaged in numerous projects, including the Little Free Libraries initiative, and found that during the facilitation process, there were always commonly discussed questions and issues that arose with neighborhood stakeholders, regardless of the area or groups involved. Pooling resources that addressed these issues, while providing a primer for those without a design background, would enable more people to get involved in shaping their neighborhood environment. Rather than reinvent something that existed, the online library could collect resources and create a central resource.

Libros Libres - Literacy, Community and Design from buildingcommunityWORKSHOP on Vimeo.

Other organizations, such as the Project for Public Spaces, address similar topics and provide resources and support, but MacWillie and bc hope their library offers both designers and non-designers a unique collection of step-by-step instructions and guides fit for all skill levels. They’re currently loading select pamphlets and their own research, and welcome additional submissions. Eventually, they’d like to augment the library with a real-world tool-lending library in Dallas, to give additional support to those looking to shape their environment.

"Ultimately, this collection doesn’t have to be specific to one place," says MacWillie. "It can really cover a large variety of situations and geographies."