DIY Placemaking Recipe Book

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Sometimes the best things come in small packages. That’s true for community projects, where the most impactful actions can be very simple, quick, and inexpensive. We’re partnering with AARP Vermont to write a “recipe book” with how-to instructions, templates and practical tips for some of the most popular community placemaking projects, from wayfinding signs to parklets, guerrilla gardening to play streets. We’re sharing a draft of the first set of recipes now, and we would love to hear what you think! We’ll be adding another half dozen and releasing the first book in 2019.

Draft recipe book

Can’t wait for the book? You don’t have to. Here’s a PDF draft of the first six recipes, just for you.

Penny for your thoughts?

We’d love to hear what you think of the draft recipes. We’ll use your feedback to be sure we’ve got the format and content right, and then to design the next set. After you check out the draft, please use this quick form to tell us what you think.

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Pop-Up Theater Kit

What if our downtowns and streets and storefronts weren't just about getting where you need to go and doing what you need to do? What if they were also spaces for play and fun and creativity? We think they can be - that's why we created the pop-up theater. And you can too!

CW is proud to be one of fifty winners nationwide in the Play Everywhere competition from KaBOOM.

Kids need play for their brains, their bodies, and their spirits. Grown ups and communities do too, for all the same reasons.

Community Workshop was one of fifty winners nationwide in the Play Everywhere Challenge, designed to bring play into everyday spaces and improve the lives of kids and families. Putting up a bright, fun play space can transform a vacant downtown lot (or a Laundromat, office, or bus stop) into a dynamic space for kids, while transforming ordinary errands into an opportunity for families to connect and create. Kids can get dramatic while their parents get the laundry done or pick up a pizza. That makes play truly accessible and makes families' lives easier and more fun.

We designed and built a whimsical, compact, portable play stage that kids can use to create and put on impromptu puppet shows and plays. Our build partner — Living Edge Woodworking — created a flexible and inexpensive design that can easily fold up and fit into a wide variety of small and unexpected places. The prototype has spent time in a downtown parklet, homeless shelter, rec center, and on a Main Street sidewalk. As part of our launch, we partnered with the Arts Bus to offer two kids’ art events to activate the space and help kids make puppets to use.

Check out the other amazing Play Everywhere competition winners, from municipal slides to sidewalk games to a kit of parks. We're honored to be in their company! 

You can download the plans for free and build your own. If you’re in the neighborhood and would like us to bring the theater to you, get in touch! We are happy to loan it out for community events or sites, or facilitate a kids’ art or theater event.


  1. Download the full pop-up theater kit.

    The kit includes detailed plans and directions for building your own pop-up theater, painting it, and tips for installing and using it. You’ll need a number of building supplies, paint, some tools, and basic carpentry skills.

  2. Find a place that needs play (or several).

    The best locations are safe, legal, accessible, and in need of things for kids to do. They can be public or private, indoors or out, one-off events or longer term installations. We’ve brought our pop-up theater to a vacant lot on Main Street, community festivals, schools, businesses, shelters and more.

  3. Install the theater.

    Set it up, be sure it’s stable and secure, and add a sign telling people what it is and letting them know they are welcome to play! Stop by regularly to check for damage and maintain it if needed.

  4. Program it.

    The theater may be just fine by itself, but it will be even more successful if you can add on some fun elements or include events and programming. Try leaving puppets, costumes or props to make it exciting. We built an improv spinner wheel to give kids ideas when it’s set up in an outdoor location. Puppet-making events, open mic sessions, or theater classes would also help draw people in!

  5. Get social! #popuptheater

    Take photos and spread the word on social media. We’d love to see your theaters popping up everywhere, and we’ll share them here!

Thanks to our partners for help making this happen:

Local Heroes Kit

Who are the local heroes in your community? The firefighters and schoolteachers, the people who quietly pick up trash and pull weeds, the movers and shakers, or the peacemakers? Whoever they are, there's power in recognizing them. Download our free Local Heroes kit with printable cards. Hang it up at an event or public space, and watch your community smile as you honor these special folks.

Everyone needs a little inspiration. There's no better way to learn about your great neighbors than to ask people to nominate their local heroes. That's why we created a FREE kit to help you shine a spotlight on people just being good to each other.

The Local Heroes kit sets you up with a simple way to discover and celebrate the good in your community. You set up a table on the street, at an event, or in your store, then ask passers-by to nominate their local hero. Make sure they explain why, and then hang up their nomination cards on the wall or on a clothesline.  

Simply download, print, and share the love. This FREE kit will help your neighbors smile, come together, and remember that we're all in this together.


  1. Download our Local Heroes card template.

    Print enough copies for your event, or to set up a good clothesline (20-50 is usually a good start). Colored paper makes them stand out!

  2. Find a spot.

    Find a place and time that will work well. You can just set it up and leave it there (we recommend hiding in the bushes to watch the fun!) or you can set it up at an event, which is a good way to get a lot of traffic. We love putting these up at community festivals, town meetings, or in the hallway of a library, town office or school. They are also great on downtown bulletin boards or empty storefront windows!

  3. Set up your Local Heroes line or wall.

    Clotheslines work well for trees or on a wall, but you can also use a bulletin board or just tape on a wall. Hang up some blank cards and leave out pens and markers. Fill out a couple to “seed” it and show people what to do!

  4. Snap a pic and share! #ourlocalheroes

    People will love seeing photos of the clothesline as it goes up, and of people taking comments.

  5. Keep on celebrating….

    If you set up at an event, you’ll likely need to take down your line at the end. But don’t throw it away! Many community organizations will find it inspiring and might want to take it over - ask your library, school, or fire department to start. If you can’t find a new home for it, you can still spread a lot of smiles by handout out the cards you collected to the people they honor. Stuff them in mailboxes, deliver them with a smile and thanks, or tape them onto front doors under cover of night!

Community Flash Mob Kit

You haven't lived until you've danced in the streets! At CW, we believe in the power of the arts to bring people together. We also believe that nothing beats a spontaneous dance party. So why not combine the two? Use our free Spotify playlist and organize your own... 

Flashmobs are spontaneous mass performances — dancing, music, theater, or any other creative spectacle. Why? Why not?Flashmobs are fun, surprising, interesting, thought-provoking, community-building wonders. They can be simple and just for fun, or can be carefully planned to educate, inform, or engage people in serious topics.

For the past few years we've organized community dance flash mobs for events, including this one at the Foodaroo food and music festival in Middlebury Vermont.

Ready to go? Use our Spotify playlist to get grooving!

Need some inspiration? Check out Flashmobs on YouTube for some great examples.


  1. Find your opportunity

    Picking a great time and place is half the battle. You want it to be public, at a time when a lot of people will be around — but don’t obstruct traffic or block sidewalks, and we don’t recommend interrupting important speeches or events. The less people expect something crazy, the funnier it will be.

  2. Tap your team.

    Decide whether you want this to be a hush-hush event, which will mean a smaller, invite-only flashmob, or whether you want to go big and spread the word. Either way, put out a call for dancers early on. You might need to do a little arm-twisting.

  3. Plan, share and practice.

    Choose a song and plan some choreographed dance moves — it helps to have a choreographer friend for this step! It’s up to you how choreographed and complicated you want to make it. Think about how skilled your dancers are and how much time you have to practice. Then share around the song and the steps, and get your team to practice on their own and/or in person. Make a clear plan for where you’re going to meet up, how you’re going to start, and what everyone should wear, bring or do. Pro tip: make a simple video to teach the moves if you can’t all get together.

  4. Bring it! #communityflashmob

    One the music starts, there’s no going back! Test out your sound equipment and set up ahead of time, and get the volume right. If you’re attempting something top secret, be sure you arrive in cognito and at different times. Don’t forget to plant someone in the crowd to capture it all on video and film! Post it up on social at the end and share it with the world.