City Repair was first initiated in Portland, Oregon but has since spread around the world; and it has recently taken hold here in Calgary. City Repair seeks to take space – abandoned or underutilized – and transform it into inspiring, people-friendly places – places that people want to gather, to socialize, and to share food and laughs. It’s about getting the community involved to revitalize an area, creating their own places of gathering that make their neighbourhood thrive.
Many elements of these gathering spaces are made from cob – a mixture of sand, clay and straw. Perhaps the most democratic of all building materials, the component parts of cob are largely found underfoot, while straw is a by-product of grain growing. Cob can be mixed with the feet, it is highly malleable and great for sculpting, and it can be used to build bread ovens, benches, seating areas, community book exchange areas, bicycle parking and more. And the whole family can get involved because you don’t need noisy or dangerous equipment to build with it.
City Repair Calgary has just had its second event – an introduction to placemaking – but it has already ignited a fire in the hearts of Calgarians wishing to make their neighbourhoods more vibrant, beautiful and people-friendly. Awaiting eager city repairers are countless spaces – community gardens, parks, street corners, and parking lots – wanting a bit of love. If you have a project idea that involves natural building we’d love to hear from you. The opportunities are endless and the time has never been riper for creating change. As Margaret Mead once said, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
For a great photo gallery of past City Repair projects click here. It’s great inspiration for what’s possible!