The Pop-Up Placemaking Tool Kit

Projects that inspire change — and improve communities for people of all ages

by Team Better Block, AARP

Pop-up demonstration projects — also known as “tactical urbanism,” “do-it-yourself urbanism” or “better blocks” — typically involve community members working together to bring attention to overlooked spaces, address neighborhood issues, or demonstrate desired improvements within a public or sometimes private space such as a vacant building or underused lot.

The most successful pop-up placemaking demonstrations put people at the forefront of creating change in their community.

When residents help identify and solve the challenges that affect their daily lives — whether it’s a half-vacant Main Street or roads that make walking or bicycling unsafe — communities and local leaders are more likely to achieve and sustain success. When communities of all types (urban, suburban, rural) and sizes experiment and demonstrate solutions, the quicker their methods can be refined and positive change achieved.

AARP Livable Communities and Team Better Block have partnered on numerous demonstration projects in support of communities that want to become more livable and age-friendly.

This tool kit stems from Team Better Block’s on-the-ground experience and lessons learned, yet it is not a prescription for how a demonstration or change must be implemented. Community leaders, organizations, and residents are encouraged to use this publication and Team Better Block’s pop-up recipe catalog (see page 23) as a starting point.

Attached document published January 2023

About the Authors

To citymakers, Team Better Block are the urban planning experts who unlock the interest and creativity of the public with a process that designs for community, connection, and commerce from the ground up.

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members, plus offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families, with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. The AARP Livable Communities initiative works nationwide to support the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties and rural areas to be livable for people of all ages.

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