Sam Hall Kaplan is so right when he says what is needed is "planning on a block-by-block neighborhood level involving those who will be affected" (July 28).
As I see it, the No. 1 problem is knowledge, and I'm not talking about those participating not being trained as architects, landscape architects and planners. What I am referring to is knowledge of what good environment consists of in terms that everyone can understand.
Fortunately, Christopher Alexander has put together a comprehensive and easily understood language of design called "A Pattern Language." Within this language is a vocabulary of "patterns" that have the same type of relationship to design as the rules of grammar do to literature.
In short, they empower those utilizing them to create environment that will be of a quality found in those places people always seem to want to be, like the country towns of England, the (piazza del) Campo in Siena, the hill towns of Italy. This is because the "patterns" set forth in clear terms what makes these environments so wonderful.