On May 2-3, delegations of cross-sector leaders from 7 cities across the country convened in Indianapolis for a day and a half workshop focused on what civic leaders have done and are dreaming of doing to improve livability in their cities. Team Better Block Principal Andrew Howard added the Better Block approach to the already impressive programs from around the country that are advancing livability.
Cities are asked to perform projects “Better, Faster and Cheaper” all the time. Typically, urban planning projects are long and full of painful public meetings that pose naysayers against progressives. Even good intended projects often get watered down, because of worst case scenarios taking over ideas for complete streets, public space and redevelopment. Conversely, the better block approach of temporarily building the project over a weekend with community simultaneously strengthens community ownership and removes the fear of change, because hey its temporary!
The Better Block approach can be applied to any livability issue in any city:
•Go Directly To The Issue
•Assemble the Community
•Have an Intervention
•Document and Publish the Action
•Move to Make Perm Change
All cities struggle with lack of resources and a large scale. The better block approach says, start by using existing resources and use the block as the scale for your project. In actuality, every city has all the resources and talent it needs to be livable, we just need to allocate and connect them, respectively. The better block approach to rapid revitalization is now being used in many of the CEO for Cities’, such as Indianapolis, Cleveland, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Saint Paul.
On-going partnerships are sought for future better blocks from CEO for Cities members to track the progress of a block long after the temporary better block. If you have a better block in the making or want to test a block in your city please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indianapolis is taking on a Better Block and our team was able to meet with local sponsors and supporters for a workshop and community walk of the proposed area. Check out what they had to say about the project and the word cloud is “feelings” created by participants at the close of the workshop. My favorite was DEPUTIZED. I think everyone that hears the better block message is deputized and has a duty to better their city in days, not years!
“The hope for all these projects is that eventually it will become permanent, but instead of sinking all this investment into it and all this money and dollars into it, you can temporarily envision what it will look like and you can see the downsides to things and you can actually change things,” said Tom Streit, Big Car Director of Neighborhood Happiness.
Coverage of the Englewood Better Block workshop can be found here.