Take Back the Alley 3.0

Take Back the Alley 3.0
May 15-18

Participatory Place-Making Defines Civic Innovation & Activates Public Spaces (North Park, Logan Heights & Tijuana)

Donate to support this effort! Click here.


Over the course of 4 days, May 15-18, volunteers from Qualcomm, local residents, business owners, and artists will converge in the alleyways to take part in their transformation by painting murals, installing signage, marking pathways, installing lights, weeding and planting, and a variety of other designs as determined by the community. This event will culminate into a series of block parties in each project location, featuring music, food, and guest speakers. Click here to volunteer & for schedule of events/activities during Thursday, May 15 thru May 18th.

Alleyways are a defining feature of older urban neighborhoods. Yet, rather than developing alleys for the benefit of the community, they have become the under-utilized public spaces. Years of neglect have turned alleys into prime locations for dumping, tagging, drug dealing, sexual activity, physical assault, and loitering.

The excessive trash, lack of adequate lighting, and poor maintenance contribute to an environment that is unsanitary and unsafe for residents and businesses, especially those living in under-served neighborhoods, where this problem is most pronounced.

Taking into account the fact that low-income urban neighborhoods are also severely lacking in parks and public gathering places, improving alley conditions becomes even more essential. As part of the public right of way, alleyways have great potential to be transformed into alternative public spaces where neighbors and friends can congregate. Furthermore, residents taking ownership of their alley lends itself to increased community vigilance, which can help deter illegal activity and improve dangerous alley conditions.

To address this chronic issue, The MEDIA ARTS Center San Diego launched an event called “Take Back the Alley” in 2012 at its’ Digital Gym community technology center in North Park. Each May they gather community and Qualcomm volunteers to enhance their back lot and encourage activation of their outdoor space. Learn more about preview year’s Take Back the Alley efforts, by visiting: http://youtu.be/HRhYlMKXxBM or https://flic.kr/s/aHsjzvVwKW


This year, with the help of the City of San Diego Civic Innovation Lab, there is greater capacity to grow this effort and develop a pilot for participatory place-making in San Diego. The project has now expanded to include several parallel projects in Greater Logan Heights. Additionally, with the lofty goal of bridging our bi-national region, two noted architects, Javier and Jorge Gracia, have plans to adopt the Take Back the Alley model in downtown Tijuana, in concert with their San

Leading up to this weekend, community members are holding design workshops and building the vision of their alleyway. The City of San Diego has also agreed to fix potholes and drainage issues and secure the proper permits to advance the Take Back the Alley events.

These projects are supported by the MEDIA ARTS Center San Diego, El Cajon Boulevard BIA, Greater Logan Heights Community Partnership, Bread & Salt, Public Architecture & Planning, City of San Diego Civic Innovation Lab, Estrada Land Planning, Index Open Studio, Gracia Architecture and Qualcomm.

Donate to support this effort! Click here.

ethan@mediaartscenter.org, 619-230-1938 x 101