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City Repair Project

Portland, Oregon-based City Repair Project (CRP) seeks to address America’s lack of community gathering spaces by empowering neighborhoods to reclaim public spaces and creatively repurpose them to bring people together.

Founded in 1996 by Mark Lakeman, the City Repair Project is best known for lavishly painted street intersections and ecological interventions that transform a spot initially intended for vehicles into spaces for people to gather. Frequently working in collaboration with Communitecture, a sister organization also founded by Mark Lakeman, each project begins with a dialog among neighbors to determine shared aspirations and goals. The community then works together to erect social architecture while designing, funding, building, and ultimately maintaining the physical space over time. City Repair Project and Communitecture are both active in ecological landscaping projects throughout the city, and the spectrum of infrastructure that is affected by the work spans many scales and types.

Every spring for ten days, the City Repair Project organizes the Village Building Convergence, which draws residents and activists together to design and build their own community amenities. They provide hands-on training in permaculture—a system of design that promotes sustainability through the study and replication of systems that occur in nature. Residents are also coached in CRP’s philosophy of self-empowerment and change.

In 2017, CRP and Communitecture joined forces to create a sleeping pod village for 15 houseless veterans in Clackamas County. The purpose of the Clackamas County Veterans Village (CCVV) is to provide shelter, facilities, and services for Veterans who are homeless so as to facilitate a transition to permanent housing. The project is the third version of their “Partners on Dwelling” initiative. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, CRP is working to build back its capacity to take on more place-making and place-justice initiatives. After two years of an online format for the Village Building Convergence, the event is finally taking place in person again. 

We had an opportunity to have an extended conversation with Mark Lakeman of The City Repair Project and Communitecture on Social Design Insights. Listen to the episodes below.

3 | The Street As a Revolution


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our theme music for 2017 is "Sorry" by Comfort Fit. The break music is "Dumb" by Nirvana from their album "In Utero."