The better block is only as great as the community that takes it on. Team Better Block advises cities (75% of our work is for municipal government) on revitalization and community development across the country. That being said, it’s not our project, it’s the communities…we’re just bring our advanced placemaking tools and validation to what they already know.
We have found that every city has all the right resources and talent to make a Better Block, they just are not talking and making together. In our experience, you must start this community talking and making together before trying to create place, raise economics and add infrastructure. For if you have united the community it makes growth pains and change easier. Why? Because the community knows each other and can have an advances conversation with each other as development, infrastructure and the lurking maintenance and programming of public space comes about.
See the MIT Placemaking report that highlights “making” as the key to creating place.
Next we have learned that you need partners outside of you discipline. A partnership with the REALTORS has greatly advanced our ability to connect vacant properties with budding artist and shopkeepers to create pop-up shops that have a high rate of becoming permanent.
So Team Better Block are still planners, but we use a different method of planning. One that is very focused on where a community is already going, mending the communication lines and adding new tools to express how the city can better serve the evolving culture and norms of the people. Most of our clients are focused on being nimble and steering the city governance with eye on population trends and how the local people are wanting to use the city. One great example of a nimble city is Nofolk VA.