VOL. 133 | NO. 10 | Friday, January 12, 2018
ULI Brings ‘Neighborhood Playbook’ Team To Memphis
By Patrick Lantrip
A trio of community developers and planners hope to bring their “playbook” on grassroots urban design and revitalization to Memphis in the next installment of Planning Matters, a series of public events sponsored by ULI Memphis and University of Memphis Design Collaborative.
At the event, which will be held Jan. 23 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Ave., Neighborhood Playbook co-creators Kevin Wright and Joe Nickol will present “Economic Uncovery,” while their friend and investor, Jake Hodesh, will present “Investing in Place by Investing in People – A New and Better Way.”
Wright, the executive director of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Nickol, senior associate for Columbus, Ohio-based MKSK, will speak about their collective brainchild – the Neighborhood Playbook, which is described as a field guide for community members and developers that facilitates the activation of spaces, with the goal of influencing physical and economic growth in neighborhoods.
“Joe and I got together a few years ago professionally and started talking about a new way of approaching neighborhood planning and development,” Wright said. “And that led to us writing an online PDF called ‘Five Ways to Activate Your Neighborhood This Weekend.’”
That document proved more popular than they anticipated, and was picked up by the local media and even downloaded internationally.
“So that told us that there was some excitement around the concept,” he said. “Around that time our friends and colleagues Jake (Hodesh) and Eric (Avner) were starting something called People’s Liberty.”
Wright said that People’s Liberty is a grant-giving organization that awards small grants to individuals, not nonprofits, who have ideas on how to make their community better.
Wright and Nickol applied and were awarded a $10,000 grant from People’s Liberty, and thus the Neighborhood Playbook was born.
Wright said the playbook mainly focuses on what action an area should take after putting a master plan in place.
“Many people see the end of the plan as the end. It’s really the beginning if you actually want to build stuff,” he said. “So if the plan calls for the revitalization of the commercial corridor in the neighborhood, we recommend that instead of letting the experts go to work, getting into demand creation and demand discovery. The playbook is a field guide to do that.
“What that means is it is basically a step-by-step guide for how to do neighborhood activation or neighborhood programming and events to produce a physical outcome.”
At the Planning Matters event, Wright and Nickol will demonstrate the effectiveness of their playbook by showing examples from Wright’s neighborhood in Cincinnati, as well as places they’ve been asked to test the model.
“I think the overall theme will be something along the lines of ‘small is big,’” he said. “Sometimes we feel like from a philanthropy standpoint and a neighborhood development standpoint, we have to go big or go home, and sometimes you can have the biggest impact just starting small.”
Admission to the Jan. 23 event is free for ULI Memphis members and $10 for nonmembers. Visit memphis.uli.org to register.