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Thread: Building A Better Block Movement

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Building A Better Block Movement

    I recently read information on the building a better block movement and I am impressed. It is grass roots planning at its best with a bottom up approach. It appears that there is also a build to prove part in some of the project where the creator brought in all sorts of things for a weekend so show people what it could be in person, not just a rendering. They also spent a day breaking all the old rules that they could to show city council people how the rules were inhibiting growth.

    Have you seen this movement in your area? Have you worked on any projects?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Interesting find, thanks! Worth bookmarking to see how it evolves.

    I will say though that the concept of outdoor dining in a street with vehicular traffic still boggles my mind. I don't understand how this makes a better block for Brownsville Texas, or anywhere else for that matter.


  3. #3
    Cyburbian jswanek's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    Interesting find, thanks! Worth bookmarking to see how it evolves.

    I will say though that the concept of outdoor dining in a street with vehicular traffic still boggles my mind. I don't understand how this makes a better block for Brownsville Texas, or anywhere else for that matter.


    I seem to remember an older driver in Santa Monica being confused by the merchants on the pavement and running over half of them.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I worked on a better blocks project. There were several committees including partnerships, volunteers, urban design, etc. I came on board rather late, and the urban design committee, which was mostly planners, architects, and artists, was moving beyond site planning on focusing on event planning (building street furniture, coordinating with local ULI, USGBC, and other organizations to get booths for the event, etc.). I was the actual urban designer on the committee and was tasked with designing the conceptual streetscape plan. On the day of the event, I stood by the giant presentation board and answered questions from visitors, half of whom were bikers.

    I have very mixed views on better blocks projects. I think raising awareness on complete streets is important, and I think it's interesting that these different events are often in sometimes underutilized or neglected areas. I think they can also be somewhat misleading, especially if the project site is located in an area where you really can't do anything permanent due to limited financial resources, tight code regulations, etc. Unlike a 2d drawing or a 3D model, Better Blocks is 4D and people are able to witness an event over the course of the day, from street vendors in the morning to movies in the street at night. But at the same time, I think there is a huge amount of investment for not as much payoff. Just my two cents.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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