I found another great article from Grist magazine about how something as simple as a bucket of paint, or several different colored, buckets of paint, can have a huge positive impact on a neighborhood:
It all started in the mid-1990s with Share-It-Square, in Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood, where architect and City Repair co-founder Mark Lakeman lives. After visiting villages in Central America where residents gather around common spaces, Lakeman decided to bring similar spaces to Portland. “Putting the public space back where it’s supposed to be may not sound like a huge change,” Lakeman says, “but it has a profound effect on the social culture … We know that Americans are more lonely and isolated than ever before, but we don’t realize that the absence of cohesion in American communities is totally related to the absence of places where people can actually build that.”
The article goes on to discuss how creating a group mural creates a sense of community:
“It’s not about the paint,” says professor Jan Semenza, a professor of public health at Portland State University who lives near the Sunnyside Piazza and has researched intersection repairs. “It’s about neighbors creating something bigger than themselves.” As an everyday intersection becomes someplace special, residents begin to experience the value of community. Neighbors paint themselves out of a corner — of the intersection, of their individual homes — and into the middle of the street. By turning an intersection from a dividing line between neighbors into a gathering place, residents begin to solve the problems that plague neighborhoods and cities. Where isolation existed, they find community. Where cars dominated, they create a people place. With a little paint, neighbors are solving big problems.
I have seeen some great community spaces also created out of roundabouts, water fountains at outdoor shopping centers, and often at landmarks like stairs or trees. Sometimes, if a natural landmark or meeting space isn’t in place, all it takes is some paint, chalk, or even ribbon to make a place significant and identify it as a community gathering space.