3-4 | The Design Your Own Park Competition


The Design Your Own Park Competition
Empowering Neighborhoods and Restoring Outdoor Play on a Citywide Scale

David Sloan Wilson


This article describes the thinking behind and the implementation of the Design Your Own Park (DYOP) Competition, a collaborative project of a university, a city, and a fund-raising organization to empower neighborhoods and restore outdoor play citywide in Binghamton, New York. The city makes vacant lots and other neglected spaces available for neighborhoods to turn into parks that residents design and build with the assistance of faculty and students from Binghamton University’s Binghamton Neighborhood Project. The United Way of Broome County assists with funding required for implementation. Neighborhood groups help maintain their parks, which increases ongoing interactions among neighbors and reduces city maintenance costs. While it is too early to access the DYOP Competition fully, it provides a science-based model for other cities seeking to coordinate efforts around large-scale community projects. Key words: Binghamton Neighborhood Project; Design Your Own Park Competition; Elinor Ostrom; Evolution Institute; neighborhood organizations; park design