Build a bus stop in an urban slum and a vibrant community sprouts and grows around it. Such is the power of small interventions into complex urban situations. Small Change by Nabeel Hamdi is another of my ‘finds’ in Seattle’s anarchist bookshop – although on closer inspection the book was not published out of a commune in Oregon, but by Earthscan in London. It nonetheless has a rich history. Born in Afghanistan of Iraqi parents, Hamdi studied architecture at the AA in London before spending a career in a huge variety of contexts helping with participatory action planning and the upgrading of slums in cities. Every page of Small Change contains an implied critique of old paradigm, top-down, outside-in, development thinking. Hamdi judges the approriateness of projects by the degree to which they evidence trust and mutual respect – but he is not moralistic. He demonstrates the wisdom of the street through cooly written and unsentimental case studies. It’s worth buying the book just for the story about the pickle jars.