When the Better Block was formed, it was all open-sourced. The idea for this was simple: the founders wanted people everywhere to be able to affect change immediately. Because of this, Better Blocks have popped up all over the world.
We are working on an impact report about the work. One group we’re talking to is in Green Bay. We asked if they’d write about their project. See their story below.
Have you done a Better Block? Want to tell us about it? Send us a note!
Dousman Street Better Block Project was a two-day demonstration focusing on what downtown Green Bay could look like if it was more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
On the weekend of September 21-22, 2018, over 50 volunteers helped create a downtown they wanted to see in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Volunteers took a vacant, un-kept building and cleaned it up, brightening the space with fresh paint, installing an art gallery, lights, music, a pop-up bakery, and a full selection of board games. The community came together to pull weeds, pick up garbage, paint over graffiti, and clean the block up to restore its appeal. The outside lane on each side of the road was temporarily transformed into a space the public could gather. Nine colorful parklets were added along with seating, plants, rideshare bikes, art, games, and a bike lane. Musicians, artists, bookworms, a coffee shop, puppies, and bicycle fanatics alike flooded the parklets to share their passions with the community.
Each side of the block featured a previously dark, un-kept alleyway that was transformed through the project. On one side, a community mural was completed by those who wanted to be a part of making their downtown a more beautiful place. The other alley across the way showcased a live DJ, string lights, seating, greenery, a beer garden, and plant art dancing in the wind above.
The Immediate Impact
As the community enjoyed the block over the weekend, miraculous things happened. People gathered outside to listen to music, play games, and talk together. Friends laughed and the quite observers sat and happily enjoyed the world happening around them. Conversations were had that echoed the need for spaces like the one we created to exist permanently in downtown.
The Long Term Impact
Conversations had during the Dousman Street Better Block Project have led to committees working on new permanent downtown improvements for 2019. Volunteers are researching how to add permanent lighting in the alleyways, new mural projects are in progress, a pocket park is being implemented in the spring of 2019 to add another community gathering space in the Broadway District, and discussions about having more greenery in the district are being had.
Because of this simple two-day demonstration, the community has opened its mind to more that we can do to make Downtown Green Bay a happy, livable, enjoyable space to frequent. The relationships made with the City and other organizations are continuing to strengthen as we continue to collaborate on upcoming projects. The community mural painted not only won the 2018 Best Public Art in Green Bay, but it is a constant reminder of what we can do as a community if we come together and set our minds to make positive changes to better Downtown Green Bay. —Sam Maass