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2008, Living Mandala
creative services by: 360 Degrees

In Association With

Planet Repair Institute



Mark Lakeman

Course Overview

The places where we live will be as fulfilling and abundant as we decide. Though much appears out of balance on our path to resilience, we actually have all that we need to transform the conditions of our lives, to repair, rebalance, and restore the our neighborhoods, towns and cities where we live. This workshop is for any person who wants to inspire and guide their own community to create places for gathering, localized food, energy, and water systems, invisible structures that sustain collaboration, and community-based visions for reconsidering and repairing every scale of community habitat.

Course Description

Over 50% of the world's population now lives in urban centers and the number is growing. Adopting strategies to meet our needs in a sane and ethical way is critical. In this workshop, we will learn how to design and implement strategies which can transform your life, your neighborhood, your city, and the world!

This workshop will present urban permaculture strategies that anyone can use to transform their local and regional circumstance. From inspiring participation by local communities to engaging elected leadership and bureaucracies, we will provide experienced insight about how to increase cultural development and creative activity while diminishing ecological impacts. We will refer to various City Repair-style project initiatives that have been successfully tested in the field. These will include Intersection Repair street transformations, Block Repair retroactive village-making on typical semi-urban blocks, large scale simultaneous local activations such as the Village Building Convergence model, as well as ephemeral interventions that are celebratory and socially based. We will look at the big picture that you can affect at the local scale, and then drill down into details about how to organize people and implement projects while having the time of your life!

City Repair & the Village Building Convergence

City Repair is an organized group action that educates and inspires communities and individuals to creatively transform the places where they live. City Repair facilitates artistic and ecologically-oriented placemaking through projects that honor the interconnection of human communities and the natural world. The many projects of City Repair have been accomplished by a mostly volunteer staff and thousands of volunteer citizen activists. City Repair began in Portland, Oregon with the idea that localization - of culture, of economy, of decision-making - is a necessary foundation of sustainability. By reclaiming urban spaces to create community-oriented places, we plant the seeds for greater neighborhood communication, empower our communities and nurture our local culture. Their projects include the annual Village Building Convergence, where people gather at neighborhood sites throughout Portland to engage in intersection repair, natural building, and other forms of placemaking.

Intersection Repair

Intersection Repair is the citizen-led conversion of an urban street interesection into public square. Streets are usually the only public space we have in our neighborhoods. But most all of them have been designed with a single purpose in mind: moving cars around.With an Intersection Repair, that public space is reclaimed for the whole community. The intersection of pathways becomes a place for people to come together. The space becomes a Place – a public square.

How do you create a public square out of an intersection?

The community works together to make the place special. They make it a place where people want to go to, where they feel safe and welcome. They make it beautiful and interesting. They make it meaningful, an expression of their own local culture.

Is it just painting the street, or something more?

Each Intersection Repair project is the work of neighborhood residents. It is the people who live in the neighborhood who decide that they want the public square, what it will look like, how it will function and how it will develop. One neighborhood may paint a giant mural on the intersection and stop there. Another may go through many phases: painting the street, installing a community bulletin board, building a mini-cafe on a corner, reconstructing the intersection with brick and cobblestones, opening businesses to make it a village center… and on and on!

Hosting Site - The the Venture Greenhouse

The Venture Greenhouse of Dominican University of California is a pioneering, early-stage business incubator providing an intensive acceleration process for growing companies that have the potential for significant environmental and social benefits. Located in San Rafael, California, the 5,000 sq. ft. “innovation engine” houses up to 12 companies at a time, with the goal of graduating companies within one year.

Inspired by Dominican’ s groundbreaking Green MBA program, the Venture Greenhouse is a growth accelerator for budding social and environmental entrepreneurs, a learning laboratory for the University’s business students, and a community resource for innovators, investors, sustainability advocates and new ventures. The Venture Greenhouse is the leading innovation and venture creation catalyst addressing critical social and environmental issues, to support humanity thriving within the planet’s ecological means.

Their mission is to accelerate the success of environmentally and socially beneficial ventures by providing a broad array of resources to entrepreneurs from Dominican University of California and beyond. The Venture Greenhouse has a globally collaborative network of enterprises, professionals and partners who contribute to vibrant and sustainable economic development for Marin County and the Bay Area.


For questions and more information regarding the course

e-mail: education(at) or

call: (707) 634-1461

To Register for the Course Click Here.


Tuition & Registration

Light beverages and snacks will be provided for the full workshop. Participants are responsible for their own lunch. You can bring your own lunch, or opt to purchase a catered lunch for an additional $10 on-site.

Thursday Evening - $20 (6:30 doors Open, presentation 7 - 9:30 pm)

Friday Only - $125 (9:30 am - 5:30 pm)

Saturday Only - $125 (9:30 am - 5:30 pm)

Village Builder - $225 (Stand in your abundance and support the true cost of this course and this good work!)

Standard / Supplemented - $195

  1. *There will be a small registration fee in addition to the above prices.

To Register for the Click Here.

Redesigning the Commons On-Line Course

With Mark Lakeman - July 24 - Oct 9, 2013

6 Sessions, Wednesdays (bi-weekly)

3:30 p.m. San Francisco • 6:30 p.m. New York

Join us for an on-line course preceding this in person weekend intensive with Mark Lakeman on Re-Designing the Commons held every other Wednesday from July 24 - Oct 9th. If you can’t make all the sessions, or join late.. no worries! Each session will be recorded and made available to participants, so you can join at any time and catch up on what you missed.

For More Information & Registration Click Here.

Snail Mail

To complete your registration via mail (which is preferred), register on-line and send the full name of the course registrant(s) with a check or money order out to "Living Mandala" and mail to:

Living Mandala

Attn: Urban Transformation

30 Castro Ave

San Rafael, CA

Refund Policy

Cancellations up to 1 week before the course before May 17 will be refunded, excluding a $25 processing fee. No refunds are given after May 17 but may be credited towards a future course with Living Mandala (minus the processing fee). Not all courses apply.

The Colonial Grid - What’s Wrong With This Picture?

In 1785, the Continental Congress passed the National Land Ordinance, which laid a Roman colonial grid over all lands west of the Ohio River. This included all future cities and towns. Public spaces and piazzas occur naturally at the intersection of pathways when communities are allowed to grow organically. The National Land Ordinance both pre-empted the natural development of such places and neglected to provide for them within the mandated grid.

In cities based on the grid plan, it is much easier for people to feel isolated and not know their own neighbors. The neighborhood places for communication and gathering that develop naturally in non-grid cities must be specifically planned for in grid cities.

Placemaking - the Alternative

Placemaking is a multi-layered process within which citizens foster active, engaged relationships to the spaces which they inhabit, the landscapes of their lives, and shape those spaces in a way which creates a sense of communal stewardship and lived connection.  This is most often accomplished through a creative reclamation of public space: projects which take the form of benches on street corners where neighbors can sit, rest and talk with each other, kiosks on sidewalks where neighbors can post information about local events, needs and resources and street paintings in the public right-of-way that demonstrate to all who pass through that this is a Place: inhabited, known and loved by its residents.  In all instances, these projects are undertaken by local communities who come together to discuss what it is they want in their neighborhood – what elements are lacking in the public sphere and how the community can work together with the resources they have to create their own place.

Placemaking touches upon deeper societal issues and contributes to participatory democracy. As the process of developing a community place proceeds; people develop deeper relationships and more energy to create together because they live together. Creating a common ground that transcends the differences among people powerfully addresses this isolation and creates an environment where people feel like they can do anything they set their collective minds to.

Major Elements of Placemaking:

Natural Building: The essence of natural building lies in its
inherent emphasis on environmental preservation and social sustainability.  Natural building is a method of construction based in using minimally processed, natural materials that are available locally.  The techniques for most natural building methods reflect the materials themselves in that they are simple, low-tech and ecologically sustainable.  Natural building employs a sense of the human-scale and isn’t dependent on expensive, energy intensive, high-tech equipment.  Natural building materials have low toxicity, are low-tech and local, making them great tools for teaching communities the synthesis of building principles in sustainability and social empowerment.

Permaculture: Permaculture is the conscious design of
sustainable human settlements.  It is also about being local: shepherding the resources that enter a place; keeping them cycling within the “system,” be it backyard, neighborhood, or bioregion; and creating beneficial connections between each part.  Community and a sense of place can only be created by the people who dwell together and who have real stake in creating a home.

Public Art: Artwork in our neighborhoods can also create a
strong sense of place, whether it is a mural, a sculpture, temporary art such as chalk drawings or functional art pieces like benches or lampposts.  Public art presents an opportunity for a neighborhood to tell its history, express local culture and have a fun project for anyone to get involved.


Redesigning the Commons

Urban Transformation, Placemaking, & Village Building

With Mark Lakeman

October 24 - 26, 2013  

Venture Greenhouse, San Rafael, California

Mark Lakeman

Mark is a national leader in the development of sustainable public places. In the last decade he has directed or facilitated designs for more than three hundred new community-generated public places in Portland, Oregon alone. Through his leadership in Communitecture, Inc., and it’s 501©3 affiliate The City Repair Project, he has also been instrumental in the development of dozens of participatory design projects and organizations across the United States and Canada. Mark works with governmental leaders, community organizations, and educational institutions in many diverse communities.

Mark Lakeman is the co-founder of the non-profit placemaking organization The City Repair Project, and principal of the community design firm Communitecture. Mr. Lakeman has taken on the role of creative urban place-maker and community design facilitator in his commitment to the emergence of a sustainable cultural landscape.  He seeks to make every design project one which will further the development of a community vision, whether it involves urban design and placemaking, ecological building, encourages community interaction, or assists those who typically do not have access to design services. His leadership in the City Repair Project has benefited communities across the North American continent including cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle, and Ottawa where City Repair Projects are underway.

Stories of Mr. Lakeman’s projects have been told widely, including in such publications as Dwell, Architecture Magazine, New Village Journal, Yes magazine, and The Utne Reader. With City Repair, in 2003 Mark was awarded the National Lewis Mumford Award by the international organization Architects & Planners for Social Responsibility for his work with Dignity Village, one of the United States’ first self-developed, permanent communities by  and for previously homeless people.

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