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Power of 10

10 activities highlighted in one Navy Pier photoA great place needs to have at least 10 things to do in it or 10 reasons to be there. But, don't get fixated on a particular number. It's really a matter of offering a variety of things to do in one spot—whose quality as a place then becomes more than the sum of its parts. In the photo to the right, we've listed 10 things to do at Navy Pier. Can you think of more?

The Power of 10 is a concept PPS uses to start off a Placemaking process. The idea is that it's not enough to have just one great place in a neighborhood—you need a number of them to create a truly lively city or town. It's not enough to have only one superior neighborhood in a city—you need to provide people all over town with close-to-home opportunities to take pleasure in public life. And, it's not enough to have one livable city or town in a region—you need a collection of interesting communities.

Mother pulling children in wagon

A great place needs to have at least 10 things to do in it or 10 reasons to be there. These could include, for instance, a place to sit, art to touch, music to hear, food to purchase, historic information to learn about, and books to read. Most of the uses and ideas have to come from the people who would use the space and hopefully be somewhat unique to that place. These 10 great places should also define people's experience of a city, and be dynamic enough to attract a range of user groups, keep people coming back, and continue evolving.

Instruct people to think about the special places in their communities. How many quality places are located in the community, and how connected are they? Are there places that should be more meaningful but aren't? Answering these questions can help Placemakers determine both individually and collectively where they need to focus their energies. This simple, common sense idea can be transformative for evaluating and strategically improving an entire city or region. It gets people really thinking and challenges them as never before.

Almost any Chicagoan could list 10 great places in the Loop—a series of destinations where tourists and residents alike could become immersed in the city for days at a time.

Mural saying 'Love your neighborhood'

But what are the 10 best neighborhoods in the city? What are the 10 best places in each of those neighborhoods? Think about one of the best places in a neighborhood and try to describe 10 things that you could do in that place, in that neighborhood. When this exercise is successful, it means the city is full of good places. Every resident knows they have access to outstanding public spaces within walking distance of their own homes. That's the sort of goal we should set for Chicago, if we are serious about enhancing and revitalizing urban life.

Whether you're talking about places in a given neighborhood or great neighborhoods within a city, "10" can also refer to the ultimate goals of variety and choice. When we talk about the "Power of 10," we are stressing the fact that we should always think of how Placemaking can be accomplished at different scales.

Finally, the Power of 10 idea gets local citizens motivated and energized to turn their places around. It suggests that by starting efforts at the smallest scale you can steadily accomplish big changes. It also gives people something tangible to strive for and helps them visualize what it takes to make their community great.

Power of 10 example applied to Chicago locations

Apply the "Power of 10" on a regional scale by linking towns and cities together with major public spaces and mixed-use neighborhoods serving as connections. This could be the basis for a new paradigm of regional development that reincorporates traditional storefronts, locally owned businesses, and human-scale public spaces into the neighborhoods in which we live and socialize.

10 things to do at locations around Chicago

There are many areas in the Chicago region that already exemplify the Power of 10. Here are some examples we've noticed…But there are many more.