Came across this article which gives an excellent perspective of what it terms “tactical urbanism” – something that Impromptu Playground is very much involved in. It also addresses the way such projects and movements can shift from guerrilla, grassroots and gain momentum as they become backed by business and government.
Here are a few highlights but I recommend you take a look at the full article: “Newest Urbanism”, by Kim A. O’Connell for AIArchitect
Tactical urbanism refers to temporary, cheap, and usually grassroots interventions—including so-called guerrilla gardens, pop-up parks, food carts, and “open streets” projects—that are designed to improve city life on a block-by-block, street-by-street basis. . . these efforts give concerned citizens and creative thinkers ways to reclaim built environments, encourage pedestrian traffic and street life, and promote economic investment without being bogged down in big politics and strangled budgets.
It’s a creative, effective, and exciting way to respond to some of the more pressing problems our communities face, but at the scale most nonexperts can understand: the block, the lot, the building.
“Proposed street closures and lane reductions in downtown areas are often controversial,” says Colleen Swain, a redevelopment officer for the city. “But if you allow people to experience the impact, rather than just see a plan or drawing on paper, then they feel more sure of their support or dissent.”
Gravel, after studying abroad in Paris, began to value dense neighborhoods of street-level retail, parks, and transit that are defined by the totality of their arrondissements, or neighborhood districts, as much as they are defined by the character of individual blocks. He and others championed the BeltLine idea at the grassroots level until it eventually caught on with city officials and the mayor’s office.