I've decided that the term "Compassionate Urbanism" doesn't really capture what I'm trying to showcase in the series. Compassion suggests people who are well off--or at least better off--helping those in need. What it does not suggest is the inclusion of those in need into creating a solution to their problems. While initiatives that help those in poverty to survive or make their lives more comfortable are hugely important, the more aptly-described "Conscious Urbanism" is about seeing impoverished members of a community as equal and active, and working to improve their quality of life through community integration. In the end, this integration not only benefits those being helped; Conscious Urbanism lifts up the entire neighborhood through the respect and inclusion of all of its members.
That being said, I recently learned (through this post at On the Commons) about a Portland, OR, project called City Repair...I don't think there could be a better project to kick off the Conscious Urbanism series. City Repair describes itself as a "group of citizen activists creating public gathering places and helping others to creatively transform the places where they live." The group transforms intersections, which currently serve auto, not pedestrian, traffic, into beautiful public spaces. More importantly, they transform the communities around these intersections by bringing together neighbors who had never met and getting whole neighborhoods involved in the creation, together, of quality public space.
The On the Commons post also highlights what City Repair is doing to help build community for those living in poverty in Portland: "[City Repair] helped to create Dignity Village...a community of formerly homeless people. People there have built straw bale houses, a kitchen, solar/gas showers, and a garden. Lakeman says it costs three dollars a day for someone to live there, as opposed to sixty a day at a typical shelter."
What I find particularly inspiring about this project is that it can be so easily replicated. The concept does not require much more than community initiative and creative thinking, and as the post and City Repair's website show, the benefits to urban neighborhoods are great. Be sure to check out City Repair's website, and don't miss the video on the About CR page.