Jason Roberts started the Better Block Project in 2010 with his community in Dallas Texas, when he realized there were very few places for people to gather in his local neighborhood. Despite learning of the City Ordinances that make certain kinds of placemaking activity difficult (for an example, the cost to put flowers along the sidewalk is $1,000; crowds are not allowed to gather; and sidewalks are not allowed to be used to display any kind of merchandise, i.e. no fruit stands), Jason persisted with his project, and in one weekend’s time built a pop-up block, complete with bike lanes, lighting, cafe tables, retail shops, and makeshift pedestrian cross-walks. The effort is just one more encouraging example of citizens uniting to bring about small, positive change in their local communities. Moreover, it demonstrates the profound effect that small, quick, simple civic interventions can put into motion in a community.
I’m thrilled to see the Better Block Project come to Detroit this fall. A partnership between the U.S. Green Building Council’s Regional Detroit Chapter, Wayne State and the Detroit Design Festival, the Better Block Project will pop-up on Detroit’s east side on the corner of E. Grand Blvd and St. Antoine. The Detroit project seeks to attract people who may be thinking about starting a business, along with other entrepreneurs, artists, musicians and designers. Is 48 hours enough time to imagine and materialize a more livable block? We shall see. I plan to participate.
Want to be a change-maker in your own community? Here’s Jason’s advice:
1. Show up.
2. Give it a name.
3. Set a date and publish it.
Do it. Open-source it. Onward.