Lean Livability: Making Lovable Places for $500 or Less

Isaac Kremer/ November 5, 2018/ placemaking, tactical urbanism/ 0 comments

Lean Livability: Making Lovable Places for $500 or Less,” 6th Annual AARP Livable Communities National Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Breakout Session – Tuesday, November 13, 2:15-3:15 pm
  • Mobile Workshop – Tuesday, November 13, 3:30pm – 5pm?

Making big changes does not always require millions of dollars and take years of time. We’ll demonstrate over 50 ways, all under $500, how communities can make themselves more livable and lovable. We’ll explore how at the district and neighborhood level, we can connect people with their places in more experiential, memorable ways, minimize pain points, and inject a “Little Bit of Happy” LBOH. Our goal is to make places that foster greater relationships between people and strengthen attachment with their communities. After becoming familiar with this Lean Livability approach, participants will be given an opportunity to explore these concepts in a workshop setting where they will design interventions for a place firsthand as a knowledge building exercise. For those who would like to apply the concepts outside of the conference center walls, they can participate in a rapid activation project near the conference hotel in downtown Charlotte. At the end of the workshop a Call to Action will be made to continue this work at home.

Moderator: Isaac Kremer

Presenters: Scott Curry, Christine Newman, Seanette Corkill

Also see Livability Guide.

Also see Livability Process.

Also see Livability Roles.


Arts & Culture: Free Library, Guerilla Historic Registry, Movie Screening, Pop-up Museum, Public Art, Sidewalk Piano

Food & Economy: Farmers Market, Food Trucks, Mobile Vendors, Pop-up Cafe, Pop-up Shop, Urban Agriculture

Nature & Greenery: Community Garden, Pallet Garden, Planter, Rain Garden, Suspended Trees

Public Spaces: Alley Transformation, Games, Movable Furniture, Pallet Chair, Pop-up Park, Pop-up Dog Park, Spool Table, Stencils, Street Furniture, Urban Trails

Streets & Sidewalks: Bike Friendly, Bike Repair, Bike Share, Depave, Guerrilla Wayfinding, Informal Bike Parking, Parklet, Pavement Painting, Plant Trees, Public Transportation, Re-forming, Sharrow


Public art: Murals, sculpture, and other forms of art when introduced to public spaces, enliven them and build stronger place attachment. Involving citizens in the process of making the art, encourages civic participation.

Food trucks: A national movement is underway to encourage food trucks. These are an excellent ways to provide low cost food, incubate small business, and activate underutilized sites. Many places have designated locations where food trucks can gather.

Planters: The addition of plants promotes wellness. A parking space, yards, roof-tops, sidewalks, and balconies can be transformed into gardens. Cultivating, processing, and distributing food builds social connections and generates economic activity.

Pallet chairs: People are most likely to sit when given a place to sit. These chairs are made from shipping pallets. They help to divert waste from landfills and build community. Placing chairs like this on streets and sidewalks is referred to as “chair bombing.”

Stencils: Inexpensive and easy to produce stencils help to bring a positive message wherever folks are passing through town. “It’s Good to be Here” is a project by artist Candy Chang in New Orleans. Others may be decorative, introducing a logo, symbol, or pattern.

Informal bike parking: Something as simple as a metal bar attached to a wall can serve as informal parking for bikes.  Another variation is setting a shipping pallet on end and bracing it so bikes may tie up.  This helps to encourage cycling at little to no cost.

Movable furniture: New public space is created through the addition of movable tables and chairs. Movable furniture gives people the opportunity to customize spaces for their particular needs. The design is flexible enough to be adapted during the trial period.


Heavy rain foiled our plans. We built much of what we could inside. Then we put it on display in the conference hall for several days. Finally, once the rain cleared we took everything outside and across the street for installation. No long-term activation was undertaken as a result of this effort.

After photo enjoying our pop-up public space in Downtown Charlotte.

Back to Speaking.

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About Isaac Kremer

A nationally recognized downtown revitalization leader, downtowns Isaac managed achieved $350 million of investment, 1,300 jobs created, and were 2X Great American Main Street Award Semifinalist and a 1X GAMSA winner in 2023. His work has been featured in Newsday, NJBIZ, ROI-NJ, TapInto, and USA Today. Isaac is a Main Street America Revitalization Professional (MSARP) with additional certifications from the National Parks Service, Project for Public Spaces, and the National Development Council.

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