Build Movements not Plans


People build movements, movements build the market.  

When we founded YARD we began with the statement ‘It’s time to change the way places change.’ To us this largely meant a shift away from a simple supply-heavy model that predominates planning today. So we began to think about Movement Building as an essential component of planning work. This approach has helped our clients and partners fundamentally rethink implementation as part of the planning process, not the last chapter in the document.

This is a key point of departure. The conventional approach assumes a movement will be born if only we can get something—preferably large (aka “catalytic”)—built. It is simply not a sustainable model. Movement Building, however, begins early in our process, empowering stakeholders to visibly test initiatives during the planning process. This shapes how we think about brick and mortar strategies. We chart initiatives in tandem with the Movement’s ability to execute. As the Movement gets organized and grows, so does the sophistication, impact and sustainability of what gets built. 

With this approach, we have built bicycle advocacy organizations, community development corporations, block clubs and new food and retail districts. All were informed and developed through our demand discovery process. 

We have seen at least three recurring themes from Movement Building:

Start where you are

Do not confuse your beginning with someone else’s middle. Looking at another place’s growth without valuing the movement that led them to that moment limits what is possible in your place. 

People are catalysts

A strong foundation of people with the confidence to test ideas with others is an inclusive and catalytic way to gain strength as an organization and bring to light the skills, insights and passion of those around you. Build the organization while you develop the vision. 

This is a Full time job

Places rarely are created by accident, without someone waking up everyday working to not only make the place relevant but vibrant and active. Smart and energetic people do not typically come to work at a place where no movement exists. Unlock the movement that the best and brightest want to help you build.