About the Book

Neighbor Power describes Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods and its bold experiments in bottom-up neighborhood planning and development. Each chapter of the book highlights one of seven programs:

  • The Neighborhood Matching Fund has more than doubled the City’s $45 million investment while involving tens of thousands of volunteers in completing more than 3,000 community-initiated projects since 1989.
  • The Neighborhood Planning Program enabled neighborhoods to hire their own consultants and involved 30,000 people in developing 37 neighborhood plans between 1996 and 1999. Citizens subsequently voted for $470 million in new taxes to help implement those plans.
  • The P-Patch Program enables 5,000 people to cultivate 72 community gardens, donating 10 tons of organic produce to food banks each year.
  • Involving All Neighbors brings persons with developmental disabilities and other marginalized people into community life by focusing on their assets.

Neighbor Power also describes the Department of Neighborhoods’ 13 Little City Halls, Neighborhood Leadership Program, and Neighbor Appreciation Day. Each chapter features stories and photographs illustrating how communities have used these programs to produce their own innovations. For example:

  • The Fremont community built a gigantic troll under a bridge as a solution to problems with illegal dumping.
  • When Columbia City storefronts were vacant, community members painted murals on the boarded-up doors and windows to make it appear as if real businesses were inside.
  • Rain run-off from the roofs of downtown buildings is being harvested and naturally filtered for use in irrigating community gardens.
  • A community-owned bicycle shop is teaching youth how to repair used bicycles that are then donated to foster children, homeless adults, and people in Ghana.
  • Refugees from five ethnic groups that are warring with one another in East Africa are operating a computer center together.

Inspired by these stories and guided by the detailed program descriptions in Neighbor Power, dozens of cities throughout North America and beyond are now engaged in similar community building efforts.

Author: Jim Diers
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Date of First Printing: December 2004
Paperback: 216 pages, 36 illustrations