Tools for Doing Development Different

Building Small is an idea with impact.  Integrating the best thinking in social responsibility, economic resilience, and authentic placemaking Building Small: The Initiative is a big idea about small.  Trying to change an industry takes time, patience and a movement. You can join this movement in three ways:

The Book. It all starts with the book. Over 250 pages, read the stories, see real examples, and learn practical tips for how to Build Small.

The Forums.  Join us twice a year in a new city as we tour projects, hear panel discussions and gain valuable insights for Building Small

The Network. Build your skills and network through Small Coach – an annual subscription program providing the tools you need to Build Small

” These Forums are extraordinary! The value is immeasurable. 
The experience is a firehose of inspiration, camaraderie and knowledge.”



The Small Scale Development Forums have spanned ten years and seventeen cities. Take part in group discussions with developers, policy makers, and capital providers. See real projects and learn real lessons from the trenches.   Grow your network of peers and colleagues you can call to test ideas or ask for assistance. All in a casual, inspired and supportive setting  of dedicated individuals who share your passion and commitment to Small.

#18 – November 6-8 2022  | NASHVILLE, TN

Recent ForumS

“This is one of the most inspiring and practical books I’ve read in a long time.  This is a book you read and reread, until it is a bit dog-eared and the corners turned down on the most important pages.”

—Molly McCabe | President Hayden Tanner and Co-Founder | The Lotus Project


Building Small provides the What, Why and How of small scale, incremental development.  An inspiring and educational call-to-action, the 250-page toolkit champions fine grained, evolutionary development as a way to support more resilient local economies, foster more authentic places, heal and grow disinvested neighborhoods, and provide a democratic form of community building that spans age, economic means and the rural to urban transect.  Graphically accessible and organized to serve as a long term reference – Building Small presents an insightful view at what is possible along with the tools needed to make it happen.

Whereas the Small Scale Forum provides lessons and a collegial learning environment, Small Coach pushes you to succeed with your projects and the pursuit of your personal passion.    


Small Coach

For a small annual subscription fee, you will participate all year long with like-minded real estate entrepreneurs, designers and public sector personnel working to Build Small. Take part in monthly virtual group discussions focused on specific aspects of the development process, watch curated content that supports your efforts, and gain access to tools others are using to develop their projects.  Join breakouts to discuss the thorny problems you are facing, while building on the hard earned experience of those who have been there before.  As a Small developer you are likely a solo entrepreneur, Small Coach provides monthly ‘accountability’ check-ins with your peers to make sure you are making progress toward the goals you will set at the beginning of each year.

In 2011 colleague Howard Kozloff and I questioned why our industry’s energy, focus, and capital was so directed toward ‘Big’ projects. Given that finer grained and entrepreneurial projects was where our interest lie,  we asked ‘does anyone else feel the same way?’. So with assistance from ULI, we created the first Small Scale Developers Forum in April 2012. Nine years, 300 people and 15 different cities later, we know we aren’t the only ones whose passion lie in Small.

Small Scale Developer Forum, 2015
Miami, FL