Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

Lighter Quicker Cheaper Challenge: Build it and the Ideas will Come

Written by Kathie Feldpausch, CPA, CAE, RCE, Senior Vice President, MICHIGAN REALTORS®

Perhaps you’ve been following the success of other local associations’ placemaking projects and you’re ready to launch one at your board. There’s just one question – where do you come up with a placemaking idea? How do you convince your board to add “another” new program when members and staff alike are increasingly busy?

To date, if you’ve learned anything reading NAR’s Placemaking resources, you’ve learned that Placemaking and collaboration go hand in hand. In other words, it takes a village to build a place.

There are a number of different ways to get your “village” involved in a Realtor sponsored placemaking project, and one of the most successful – the Lighter Quicker Cheaper (LQC) Challenge - has been fine tuned in Michigan and can serve as a model for your LQC project. Most importantly, you’ll be pleased to know the program is streamlined, maximizing the efforts of staff and volunteers while generating positive feedback for your Realtors.

How was this program developed? Over the course of the past three years, the state association worked with local association partners to launch local challenges designed to bring the community and Realtors together. More importantly, through a generous NAR grant, a complete packet to run a LQC Challenge in your community is available through the Michigan Realtors.

Along the way, NAR has adjusted its grant program eligibility and implementation requirements; and we’ve adjusted the LQC Challenge to accommodate the changes.

How do you get started?

  • First, develop your LQC Challenge program details. Determine a grant award amount – you’ll be able to fund a single LQC project up to $2,500, but perhaps you want to start smaller.
  • Advertise your LQC Challenge throughout your community – perhaps generating interest at a membership meeting or asking partners to spread the message.
  • Select your judging panel  - include affiliates, local merchants or arts council members – virtually anyone who expresses an interest in improving a neighborhood or community will be an enthusiastic ally.
  • Solicit applications, choose a winner, complete your NAR grant application – and your project will become a reality.

But wait a minute – while you and your members may have heard about placemaking, how will you know if an idea will be successful?

It became clear in Michigan after the first couple of LQC challenges that we needed to develop a scorecard that can be used by local association leaders or a selection committee to identify programs that are consistent with placemaking principles.  At the Jackson Area Association of Realtors, for example, the selection committee used the scorecard to review eleven (11) applications and to narrow down the selection to seven (7) eligible project ideas. The scorecard also serves to even the playing field and ensure all ideas will be measured against objective criteria.

In later posts, I will describe in more detail the ideas that were implemented throughout Michigan.  In the meantime, you can download the grant application template and scorecard.


Community Outreach Programs

Housing Opportunity Grant
Housing Opportunity Grants support state and local REALTOR® Associations’ affordable housing activities. The goal of the program is to position REALTORS® as leaders in improving their communities by creating affordable housing

Smart Growth Grant
Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. The Smart Growth Program offers state and local REALTOR® Associations to way to engage with government officials, community partners and the general public in planning and designing community’s future.

Planned diversity initiatives makes good business sense. REALTOR® Associations with well-planned diversity programs create a stronger sense of community, particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreign-born and minority residents who are moving up the socioeconomic ladder and are buying homes.

NAR Placemaking Resources

Placemaking Guide: A Guide to Transform a Public Space into a Community Place
REALTORS® and state and local association staff can learn the details of Placemaking, the kinds of projects placemaking entails, how to organize them, and where to go for assistance and resources.

Placemaking Webinar Series
Our Placemaking Webinar Series will provide more in depth information on the various types of Placemaking and how REALTORS® were involved in Placemaking activities in their communities.

Placemaking Grant
The Placemaking Grant funds the creation of new public spaces, like pocket parks, trails & gardens, in a community. The grant focuses on “lighter, cheaper, quicker” placemaking projects, which can be built under a year and cost less  than $200,000.

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Smart Growth

The healthier a community, the better the environment for REALTORS®. Keeping a community attractive, livable and functioning well is a complex task.