Projects That Make Cities Better

1. Street Vendor Guide

“There are more than 10,000 street vendors in NYC. …Vendors are fined $1000 for small violations, like parking their cart more than 18″ from the curb, and many vendors don’t know their rights when approached by police. The rulebook is intimidating and hard to understand by anyone, let alone someone whose first language isn’t English. To address these problems, I collaborated with Rosten Woo and John Mangin of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), Sean Basinski of The Street Vendor Project, and street vendors around NYC to develop this pamphlet so vendors can understand their rights, avoid fines, and earn an honest living.” —Candy Chang, designer, artist, urban planner; www.candychang.com

2. I Wish This Was
“Many cities are full of vacant storefronts and people who need things. … I made these fill-in-the-blank stickers to provide an easy tool to voice what we want, where we want it. Just fill them out and put them on abandoned buildings and beyond. It’s a fun, low-barrier tool for citizens to provide civic input on-site, and the responses reflect the hopes, dreams, and colorful imaginations of different neighborhoods.” —Candy Chang, designer, artist, urban planner; www.candychang.com

3. desigNYC Matching firms with Nonprofits

desigNYC’s aims to improve the lives of New Yorkers through the power of good design. Their aim is to pair nonprofits with designers to create solutions affecting a range of social and environmental issues impacting the city.

“Our approach is multi-disciplinary. Our process is participatory and community-centric. desigNYC projects focus on themes of well-being and sustainable communities. … including sustainable development, social justice, human health, local food systems, youth leadership and more.” —www.designyc.org

4. The Green Guide (a result of designNYC)
Through desigNYC, The Rooster Design Group connected with the New York City Housing Authority to create the Green Guide, a communication tool to help residents understand and relate to the ways that they can reduce their environmental impact and energy consumption.

“One of the criticisms of the sustainability movement is that it is targeted at wealthy individuals who can afford hybrid cars and organic produce. But what about NYC’s half-million residents of public housing? How can they participate in living a more sustainable lifestyle?”—Read more about the Green Guide.

5. Anchor Campus Crime Prevention


Laura Berglund worked on the Anchor Campaign as a student project while attending the Kansas City Art Institute. Since graduating, she’s working at Design Ranch in Kansas City. “Crime is a serious issue in a school’s neighborhood, which is why I thought this concept would be a great fit,” says Berglund. “I talked with the head of security at KCAI, and there is a good chance that some aspects of the Anchor campaign could be used, but for now, it’s only speculative.” 


6. Buy a Meter, www.buyameter.org

“The facts are simple: one in four families in Hale County are not connected to the municipal water system. Without this service, these families often get water contaminated with sewage. It costs $425 to bring clean water to a single home. It is clear that in the last decade, the rural poor in America have gotten poorer. But having safe water is not something most of us think of as a problem in our country. Let alone a design problem.”—by Project M, www.projectmlab.com

7. Billboards to Place mats

Remakes PlacematGOOD reports that a company called ReMakes has found a second life for old billboards — cute placemats. File that under “why-didn’t-I-Think-Of-That.”

“ReMakes takes old billboards and posters and cuts them into placemats. Each set of ReMakes includes four placemats, each randomly cut from the same ad.” — Reports GOOD

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