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Intro to Placemaking

  • Intersection Repair

    Intersection Repair

    Intersection Repair is the citizen-led conversion of an urban street interesection into public square.Streets are usually the only public space we have in our neighborhoods. But most all of them have been designed with a single purpose in mind: moving cars around.With an Intersection Repair, that public space is reclaimed for the whole community. The intersection of pathways becomes a place for people to come together. The space becomes a Place – a public square.

    How do you create a public square out of an intersection?

    The community works together to make the place special. They make it a place where people want to go to, where they feel safe and welcome. They make it beautiful and interesting. They make it meaningful, an expression of their own local culture.

    Is it just painting the street, or something more?

    Each Intersection Repair project is the work of neighborhood residents. It is the people who live in the neighborhood who decide that they want the public square, what it will look like, how it will function and how it will develop. One neighborhood may paint a giant mural on the intersection and stop there. Another may go through many phases: painting the street, installing a community bulletin board, building a mini-cafe on a corner, reconstructing the intersection with brick and cobblestones, opening businesses to make it a village center… and on and on!

    Does this close the street to cars?

    No. Many public squares throughout the world are in fact shared by cars and pedestrians. These spaces are designed in ways that make drivers move more slowly and expect pedestrians. Such design is one of the goals of an Intersection Repair.

    Why would a neighborhood want an Intersection Repair?

    It depends – each one is different. Maybe people want a focal point for their neighborhood, a place for community interaction and seasonal celebrations. Maybe they want to slow down traffic, and let pedestrians share the public space of the road equally with cars.

    Who makes a project happen?

    You and your neighbors do! You and your neighbors start the idea, get your community involved, create a design, and install it at your intersection. The City Repair Project is here to help you navigate the process, work with your neighbors, connect with skilled people in yoru community, raise funds, and meet City requirements.

    Does all this cost anything?

    The City Repair Project charges no fees for the work we do with neighborhoods – we are a nonprofit organization, and are supported by individual donations and limited grant funding. Project expenses – paint, materials, etc. – must be covered by the neighbors, however.

    How do I get started?

    It all starts with a potluck. Have some of your neighbors over to share food and conversation. Find out what your concerns and dreams are for your neighborhood.

    If your group has both the desire and the energy to work together to do something, schedule another potluck with more of your neighbors – and invite The City Repair Project. We’ll give a short slide presentation on Intersection Repair, help you identify neighborhood goals and resources, and talk with you about next steps for a neighborhood project.

    When you’re ready, contact us to discuss your idea and set up a plan for action!

    Further Resources / Downloads

    In the following documents you will find tips & and a copy of the Portland City Ordinance that allows for Intersection Repair paintings.  You will find this type of information and much more in our Placemaking Guidebook that takes you through the whole process of creating a public Placemaking project!

    IR Paint Logistics (MS Word doc)

    City of Portland Ordinance 175937 (MS Word doc)