One Incredibly Easy Way to Let People Know Your Neighborhood Is Getting Better

Simple as they seem, colorful signs suggest residents of this Boston neighborhood imagine a hopeful future.

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Kaid Benfield

As part of a three-day intensive green planning meeting earlier this week, I had the honor of joining a walking tour of an inner-city Boston neighborhood that has had its share of struggles but also has reason for hope. Among struggles, for example, it has been plagued by incidents of drug dealing, crime, property deterioration and vacancy, and economic distress.

But the neighborhood is also highly walkable; has several examples of good, new affordable housing and mixed-use development, much of it put in place by the nonprofit but very active Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation; and is getting two new commuter rail stations opening next month. It also appears to have a terrific network of community organizations and leaders, a diverse population (47 percent black, 29 percent white, 12 percent Latino), and a range of neighborhood assets including a library, YMCA, churches, banks, affordable housing, health care centers, great bus transit access and many small businesses and shops.

We’re helping the neighborhood shape its own revitalization with green development principles. Our team from NRDC and our national community development partner, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (see my earlier description of LISC’s important energy efficiency work in Boston neighborhoods), were wonderfully hosted on the tour and during the meeting by the CSNDC and a citizens’ group, the Talbot Norfolk Triangle (TNT) Neighbors United. The TNT section of the neighborhood, adjacent to one of the new transit stations, is our focus.

During the walk, I couldn’t help but notice an impressive number of community signs vividly expressing the its pride and determination. They struck me has highly symbolic expressions of a hopeful future for the neighborhood.

I will be writing much more about Codman Square, the Talbot Norfolk Triangle and the good work being done there. But, for today, I just wanted to share with you these inspirational neighborhood expressions.

This post originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog.

All images by Kaid Benfield.

About the Author

  • Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. More
    Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America. He is the author or co-author of Once There Were Greenfields (NRDC 1999), Solving Sprawl (Island Press 2001), Smart Growth In a Changing World (APA Planners Press 2007), and Green Community (APA Planners Press 2009). In 2009, Kaid was voted one of the "top urban thinkers" on Planetizen.com, and he was named one of "the most influential people in sustainable planning and development" in 2010 by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. He blogs at NRDC's Switchboard.