Livability Solutions

Tool: Improve Your Community Engagement Process with the Power of 10+

What is the Power of 10?

Power of 10 is a community engagement tool developed by Project for Public Spaces to help communities assess their blocks, streets, neighborhoods, main streets, towns, and cities. The tool is invaluable for helping initiate a successful placemaking process. The Power of 10 provides the community with an easy benchmark: a great place needs to have 10 things to do or 10 reasons to stick around. A city park, for example will give park-goers an opportunity to:

  1. Play a game;
  2. Talk to a friend;
  3. Purchase and eat food;
  4. Lay out;
  5. Sit in the shade;
  6. Enjoy drinking water;
  7. Go ice skating/sledding;
  8. Look at art;
  9. Walk your dog;
  10. Take your kids to the the playground.

And while 10 is not a magic number (places that provide people with 8 things to do are just as successful), we find that by offering people more activities, successful places can serve as universal settings where a community can come together.

The Power of 10 is scaleable: it can be applied to a place, a city or a region. For example, a city center should have a fantastic park and nine other dynamic places, which are connected, and easy to get to. Similarly, a successful city will have at least 10 unique neighborhoods or districts.

How does the tool work?

The Power of 10 exercise asks community members to think critically about the places that work in their community. Participants must reach a consensus on a few destinations that are most important. Community members are then tasked with identifying opportunity destinations that are valuable, but may be falling short of achieving their potential. Lastly, the exercise asks participants to identify qualities that make these destinations work well by asking the community to consider desirability, uniqueness, and more broadly, the cultural and social value of a place. Answering these questions can help the community determine both individually and collectively where and what they need to do to make their community more livable and dynamic.

For example, in an urban context a community may identify a corner store as a key destination. At the store you run into your neighbors, you grab your morning coffee, you eat your morning bagel, you sit in the parklet out front, you talk to the owner and so on. Perhaps, the store provides added value to the neighborhood by highlighting the culture of the community. For example, in the Lower East Side, Manhattan, the Chinese Hispanic Deli is a nod to the cultural and ethnic makeup of the neighborhood.

An opportunity destination may have many of the same characteristics as the local bodega, but may be falling a bit short of maximizing its value. For instance, the neighborhood rec center, may be centrally located, may offer unique programming that captures the values of the community but may have poor lighting, ADA access issues, and a limited evening schedule.  While the rec center may be an important destination, by identifying some of its flaws and opportunities ( the rec center could function as a night holiday market), the community could improve the vitality of the destination.

Overall, participants are asked to select at least one opportunity destination whose value they may maximize by thinking about:

  • Uses & Activities-  What additional uses and activities could be clustered with this destination to improve it?
  • Sociability-  What group activities could be supported here? E.g. space for children’s activities, cultural events, education, etc.
  • Image & Comfort- What enhancements could make the destination more inviting and comfortable?
  • Access & Linkage- Are there ways to increase regional importance by improving physical and programmatic connections to other attractions nearby?

These questions help inform a more complete qualitative assessment of a destination and provides the community with the blueprint to enhance its value.

When can you use the Power of 10?

The tool is most effective during a planning process for your community. You may be planning a large capital project, new transportation infrastructure, or simply discussing growth. The Power of 10 exercise is malleable enough to add value to any discussion because at its core it works by identifying what makes key destinations unique, functional, and valuable to the community.  For example, if you are executing a transit project, it would be valuable to ascertain key destinations and their connectivity. Similarly, if you are developer, close proximity to an opportunity destination may be more valuable to your housing development.  Overall, the Power of 10 is an excellent assessment tool that can be easily utilized by anyone interested in improving where they live.