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5 Revitalization Projects You Can Champion in Your Community

There are dozens of ways you can build more livable, green and prosperous communities, either by yourself, or with the help of some neighbours. 

Vancouver City Hall Community Garden, 2019 Image: Steven Godfrey
Image: Steven Godfrey

Published on August 06, 2021

Community revitalization can take many forms. Often, revitalization projects are months — or years — long initiatives to reorganize the structure of a neighbourhood, by repairing existing infrastructure, investing in new public spaces, or working to improve community engagement. They can be the work of local governments, community organizations, current residents, or some combination of the three. 

Revitalization is at the core of what we do at Evergreen. Ten years ago, we transformed an abandoned brick factory into the Brick Works, an award-winning public space and community hub. But revitalization doesn’t just happen in these larger-scale projects. There are dozens of ways you can build more livable, green and prosperous communities, either by yourself, or with the help of some neighbours. 

Championing revitalization projects in your own backyard can be a great way to strengthen your community ties, while creating greener, more inclusive and more connected spaces.  

Here are some projects you can start exploring today. 

A set of seats near a wall

Create Some Seating 

Look around your neighbourhood for a moment — are there enough places to sit? Many community spaces lack accessible places for residents to sit down (especially in the shade!) 

We’ve written before about tactical urbanism, which can be as big as city-installed bike lanes, or as small as residents making simple changes to their neighbourhood’s structure.  

Do you or someone you know have room to place a bench outside, where others can sit for a moment? Is there a local business you can encourage to add some free outdoor seating? By making a place for others to rest, you’ll be creating a point of connection, and helping reduce your community’s seating deficit. 

A playground

Make Room to Play 

How many playgrounds does your neighbourhood have? What are they like? Do they offer opportunities for children to play, even if they don’t bring their own toys? 

Consider establishing a toy library in a local park or public space. Our Chief Program Officer Orit Sarfaty recently shared how a toy library in Toronto’s Jean Sibelius Square Park provided opportunities to play for community members, especially those without backyards. 

Hands planting a seedling

Plant a Tree 

How green is your community? Studies have shown that trees improve the mental health of residents, while lowering emissions and offering shade to passersby. 

Can you plant a tree near your own home, or investigate local tree planting initiatives near you? At Evergreen, we have a long history of supporting tree planting. Check out our guide on when to plant a tree, and how to pick a tree planting site.  

Person picking up trash

Organize a Neighbourhood Clean Up 

As seasons change, garbage and waste can build up in community spaces. Consider organizing a regular clean up in your neighbourhood — it can be a great way to meet others, while caring for the space you share. There might even be an existing clean up group you can sign up for, so it’s worth doing some research before setting out on your own.  

Flowers in a garden

Get Gardening  

Don’t have a backyard to garden in? No problem. Plenty of communities have turned unused or unkept public space into community gardens. Consider exploring community gardens near you, or, starting one of your own. Pollinator gardens are especially great projects for neighbours to build together.  

Looking for inspiration? Explore our Gardening with Brother Nature video series, where our Lead Hand, Urban Agriculture Isaac Crosby shares great plant stories, tips and tricks. Or, explore our organic life gardening series, where you’ll find dozens of gardening tips in one spot.  

If You’re Thinking Bigger 

If you have something more elaborate in mind, we love this how-to guide from our friends at the Laneway Project, which walks you through their step-by-step process for planning a laneway revitalization project.  

And if you do end up starting a community revitalization project, be sure to connect with us on social media about it — we’d love to hear about your progress.