In my first post I described how the vision for the alley beautification project came into being. But before I got too far ahead of myself, the next step was to put together an outline and see whether the neighbors thought it was as good of an idea as I did. This project is about way more than just making things pretty. It is also about building a sense of community amongst the people that live in these 10 houses.

We are located in the block adjacent to historic Washington Elementary School and in a stroke of acronym genius, neighbor Greg Bernhardt proclaimed that we should be called the SNOW (slightly north of Washington) Block. And so it was. A Facebook page was born and with it a new method of dialogue amongst the neighbors.

Pool party

I’ve found one of the best ways to get people together is the promise of food and maybe a few adult beverages. That the Bernhardt’s graciously donated their backyard and pool for this hot August night get together definitely didn’t hurt the cause either. Invitations were delivered door to door. Reminders were put on our shiny new Facebook page.

And then the coolest thing happened.

Neighbors from seven of the ten houses came. And people were introducing themselves. People that had shared an alley for, in some cases, several years were just meeting for the first time. And it was nothing short of awesome.

Breakdown of home ownership

• Seven houses are owner occupied
• Three are rentals

• One owner lives in Boise
• One owner lives in California
• One owner lives in another house in our block (their rental is an adjacent lot)

I talked individually with everyone there that night – showing them the map  and my objective and strategies (below). I had a signature sheet that didn’t commit anyone to anything – just was just a show of support for the project – and by the evening it was practically full. By the end of the month I had 100% buy in from the neighbors. Good thing I had all winter to work on my plan.

SNOW Block Community Project


To transform the public alley space between Lemp & Heron and 15th & 16th Streets that is currently largely unused into a neighborhood space that:

• Builds community at all stages of the project
• Provides a multi-purpose area that benefits everyone
• Safer for the residents and nearby school children
• More environmental
• Educational
• Cleaner, more organized and a better use of space


• Surface the alley with either traditional pavement or explore options for alternative materials such as permeable pavers.


• Identify areas that would be suitable for planting, adding a green element to the alley with a focus on edibles.


• Addition of strategically located rain barrels.
• Solar lighting.
• Mural site.
• Community plaza for neighborhood gatherings.
• Pads for recycling and garbage cans.


1) Feasibility assessment and acceptance by neighbors.
2) Complete design and specifications for all phases.
3) Cost estimations and neighbor feedback.
4) Community partner and sponsor presentations for additional funding.
5) Initial presentation to city and grant sources.

As the project progresses there will be conversations to discuss financial outlay, to identify who wants to be involved and at what level with outsourcing opportunities for those that want a reduced participation level.