What is a “Better Block” event all about?
The Better Block project is part block party and part living charrette. It involves transforming a street to show the potential for a great, walkable, vibrant neighborhood. The physical streetscape is transformed through temporary trees, lighting, landscaping, crosswalks, bike lanes, street furniture, and more. Artists, performers, local vendors, and pop-up businesses show the potential for increasing the vitality of the area. Better Blocks are now being staged across the country, and have helped cities rapidly implement infrastructure and policy changes.
Why do we think this is a cool idea?
A “Better Block” project:
Builds interest and momentum for action
Inspires people about the possibilities of better design
Demonstrates grassroots support for better streets and public spaces
Creates new partnerships
Provides exposure for local artists, vendors, and community organizations
Often leads directly to more permanent improvements#What is “Making Grand Grand”?
In 2011, the City of Kansas City developed a plan to make Grand Boulevard complete, green, and livable. This plan included enhanced bicycle, pedestrian, and transit accommodations. The plan also included recommendations for improved landscaping, street trees, and beautiful, creative solutions for stormwater management and other green infrastructure components. Finally, this plan included concepts for significantly enhanced public spaces and experiences along the corridor.
This “Better Block” event is being designed to highlight some of the key concepts of the “Making Grand Grand” plan including widened sidewalks, a bi-directional bike lane separated from automobile traffic, street trees and landscaping, and unique public spaces along the street.
Where and when is this happening?
This event is tentatively scheduled for October 5th, 2012 (First Friday) on Grand Boulevard between 16th and 17th Street.
What will this look like?
While there are still a lot of moving pieces, the plan is to use the parking lane and one traffic line in each direction of Grand Boulevard to enhance pedestrian, bicycle, and amenity zone of the street. The east side Grand Boulevard will include a bi-directional bike lane separated from automobile traffic by a landscaped zone with street trees, planters, and on-street parking. The west side of Grand will incorporate an expanded sidewalk and pedestrian area, with ample room for café seating, art, performances, street vendors, and other installations. This expanded pedestrian zone will also be buffered from automobile traffic by a zone that includes landscaping, street trees, and on-street parking. We are working with property owners to hopefully incorporate storefronts that are currently vacant into event activities. We also plan to temporarily mark crosswalks and bike lanes.
How can you help?
This is a big event, and we need lots of help! In addition to donating to this project, you can help us with:
Partnerships : Are you part of an organization that would be interested in this event? Do you have an idea for an installation or activity that could activate part of this block (art installation, community garden, food truck, etc.) If so, we want to hear from you!
Materials : We are seeking donations for temporary materials including street trees, planters, temporary turf of some kind, street furniture, temporary street markings and more.
Volunteers : We will need volunteers before, during, and after the event to help transport materials, set up, break down, and generally make sure things are running smoothly.
Financial Support : We are doing everything we can to minimize the cost through volunteered labor and materials, but there is still cost associated with the event, including insurance, permits and traffic plans, and other logistical expenses. Money donated here will go toward these costs.
Outreach : We want to spread the word to as many people as possible. If you know people or organizations who might be interested, please spread the word!
How can you stay informed?
Look to our Better Block KC Tumblr for the latest information about the project.
Who are we?
The Downtown Neighborhood Association is taking the lead in organizing this event. The Downtown Neighborhood Association is an organization of committed, engaged residents and small businesses that works to build a vibrant, safe and friendly neighborhood by nurturing a sense of community and advocating on behalf of a variety of civic issues.
Working on this event in particular are just a collection of downtown residents and workers who want to make downtown a more vibrant, green, walkable, livable place. We hope you will join us!
Better Block KC is completely free to attend and organized entirely by volunteers. The vast majority of our materials, labor, and planning for this event are donated, and this event would not be possible without our generous sponsors. However, we do still need to raise some money to cover items like insurance, permits, traffic control equipment, and miscellaneous materials. Here is where the money is going:
$1100 – Traffic control planning and equipment rental
$500 – Liability insurance
$350 – Fees and permits
$100 – Printing
$600 – Miscellaneous materials (plants, lounge chairs, duct tape, you name it!)
Loma Vista Nursery is lending a semi-truck load of plants for the event.