Whats Wrong with this Picture?

In 1785, the Continental Congress passed the National Land Ordinance, which laid a Roman colonial grid over all lands west of the Ohio River. This included all future cities and towns.

Public spaces and piazzas occur naturally at the intersection of pathways when communities are allowed to grow organically. The National Land Ordinance both pre-empted the natural development of such places and neglected to provide for them within the mandated grid.

In cities based on the grid plan, it is much easier for people to feel isolated and not know their own neighbors. The neighborhood places for communication and gathering that develop naturally in non-grid cities must be specifically planned for in grid cities.

The Alternative: “Placemaking”

The City Repair Project was established to return these important places of communication and participation to our neighborhoods. At City Repair, we see that sustainable communities are built when people work together for mutual benefit. We create and facilitate prototype gathering spaces that can inspire any community to create their own places of gathering.

Placemaking is the creative reclamation of public space and the core of what we do at City Repair.  In addition to the projects that take place during the Village Building Convergence, placemaking happens year-round. From the Albina Triangle Project in North Portland to giving presentations nationwide, our Placemaking Program aims to empower citizens to creatively transform the places where they live.  Read more about placemaking.

Want to learn first-hand by helping a neighborhood project?  You can get involved locally though volunteering!

City Repair’s Placemaking Guidebook

Our best print resource for community-based projects such as Intersection Repair is called the Placemaking Guidebook. It includes physical examples, stories, techniques for community organizing and facilitation, and much more.


  • How to paint an intersection, step-by-step
  • Detailed methods for communicating with your neighborhood
  • Sample agendas for meetings
  • Personal stories
  • Make your own block party
  • Resources