Spark Transformation – Jay Walljasper Event

Spark Transformation – Jay Walljasper Event

Speaker Jay Walljasper with event partners from RNeighbors, the Rochester Public Library, and Augsburg College.

Over 60 people came out on Thursday, October 13, at the Rochester Public Library, to hear what writer and speaker Jay Walljasper had to say about “25 Ways to Spark Creative Transformation in Your Community.” Many ideas and stories came from his book, The Great Neighborhood Book, a Do-it-Yourself Guide to Placemaking.

As Jay progressed through his presentation he shared stories from different communities and the neighborhoods in them and how they have achieved increased cohesiveness through sometimes simple, sometimes complex solutions. You can view a PDF of the presentation here or watch the presentation compliments of the Public Library.

A few quotes from Jay’s presentation:

  • “If neighborhoods only do one thing, make them more walkable.” Not only is walking a healthy activity but people interact more when walking in their neighborhood.
  • “Wandering is great to explore and improve mental health by being outside.”
  • “Density is just another word for understanding that people like people. It’s the density of cars that gets people get nervous.”

When asked what his number one piece of advice is for neighborhoods is he said “never underestimate the power of a pot-luck“. In the act of eating together people are able to look past differences and realize what they have in common to work towards a common goal.

Attendees were asked to write “What’s Your Aspiration for Your Neighborhood” and post them. Answers were all over the map. Some examples were:

  • I’d love to know my neighbors better!
  • Be able to cross the street safely
  • No guns, especially by the school
  • Vegetable exchange
  • Create a stronger community

Thanks to Jay for sharing his wisdom and experiences, to partners for working together in this effort and for all of the attendees with thoughtful questions and feedback. May we see a rise in Rochester of neighborhood pot-lucks and positive neighborhood organizing in future months!

Walljasper is the author of All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons (2011), The Great Neighborhood Book (2007) andVisionaries: People and Ideas to Change Your Life (2001) along with the e-book How to Design Our World for Happiness (2013). Besides consulting, writing and speaking, Jay is Urban Writer-in-Residence at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Senior Fellow at Project for Public Spaces, and editor of the online On The Commons magazine.


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