Building Commons and Community documents 45 years of the late Karl Linn's legacy creating neighborhood spaces for communities and by communities. In this richly-illustrated landscape-format hardcover book, Linn presents his philosophies and practical wisdom to help people use the resources they find in their own surroundings to create welcoming shared spaces.

In addition to an extensive addendum of resources for creating community commons, this work contains colorful photo-essay case studies of projects that cross boundaries between professional design and neighborhood activism provide inspiration and guidance for citizens and professionals who wish to collaborate to strengthen communities. Projects include community gardens, playgrounds, parks and other gathering places built on derelict or unused property by the people who use them.

Landscape architect and child psychologist Karl Linn (1923-2005) was a beloved, down-to-earth, visionary leader of grassroots community building, who brought life to economically disenfranchised neighborhoods in cities from Boston to Berkeley. His book documents the creativity and ingenuity of working-class citizens, students and volunteer professionals who transformed derelict vacant lots and drab institutional settings into colorful and lively community commons in Boston, New York, Newark, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Louisville KY, Pittsburgh, Columbus OH, Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco and Berkeley.


Format Hardcover
Nb of pages 224 p. Index . Appendices .
ISBN-10 0-9766054-7-3
ISBN-13 978-0-9766054-7-8
GTIN13 (EAN13) 9780976605478
Publication Date 2008
Main content page count 224
Illustrations 379 Illustrations
Dimensions 10 x 8.5 x 0.9 in.
Weight 34 oz.
List Price $29.95


Table of Contents




Karl Linn Community Garden Commons
Peralta and Northside Community Art Garden Commons
Berkeley EcoHouse
Ohlone Greenway Natural and Cultural History Exhibit

Melon Neighborhood Commons: The Pilot Project
Neighborhood Commons in Perspective: Lessons Learned in the 1960s
Campus-Neighborhood Peace Commons and Campus Commons
Pueblo City Commons Cluster

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commons
Symposium on Children, Nature, and the Urban Environment
The People's Convention
Healthy Cities Commons



EPILOGUE by Carl Anthony

AFTERWORD by Nicole Milner





Additional Materials

Louise Dunlap Speaks on Karl Linn

Author and free-speech activist Louise Dunlap talks about how we are silenced as children but can find our voices to speak up.

Building Commons and Community on KPFA Radio: The life and work of the late Karl Linn

Kris Welch talks with Carl Anthony, Diana Young, John Steere and Len Duhl about the late Karl Linn and his new book – Building Commons and Community.

Carl Anthony Speaks on Karl Linn

Carl Anthony remembers his first meeting with Karl Linn in North Philadelphia in the 1960s.

Linda Maio Speaks on Karl Linn

Berkeley City Council Member, Linda Maio, remembers Karl Linn and the Peralta Community Gardens.


re:place Magazine
Aug 26, 2009
Karl Linn documents an extraordinary career in Building Commons and Community. Although the book feels complete, it is unfortunately not as extensive as Linn originally envisioned as his unfortunate passing meant he did not finish all the chapters he had planned.

- Leszek Apouchtine

Children, Youth and Environments
It is not written as a text, but as a memoir of the process of engaging in social democracy through the creation of spaces for people to connect with one another, nature and the built environment.
- Illène Pevec

Karl Linn's compassion, humanity and insight into what makes good community design—and what, in fact, makes community itself—is exactly what much of the world needs to develop if we are to evolve beyond our current frightful state of affairs. He saw the need for

- Alice Walker, author, The Color Purple

There was only one Karl Linn—a master at using design to create community and empower people.
- Chester Hartman, founder, Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Jun 1, 2005
- Diana Young

A Lot in Common
See your extraordinary neighbors spend five years constructing the Peralta Community Peace Garden in Berkeley, California, as they build friendships and overcome their differences. Meet artists and a psychic, a rabbit on the loose, and a man whose vision of reclaiming common land is bringing a sense of community back into our neighborhoods, in the independent documentary A Lot in Common.

Sierra Club's Green Life Blog
Sep 24, 2009
The late Karl Linn, landscape architect and child psychologist, chronicles community projects he helped build, including greenways in Berkeley, Calif., and fun, child- and eco-friendly spaces in Philadelphia. The photo-essay format makes the content accessible, and the photos of beautiful gardens and common areas make this book an excellent resource for those looking to build community-shared green spaces.

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