What is it? A better block event is designed to show people how a public space in their neighborhood might look different. In order to help residents reimagine some part of their community, an area is often selected for a temporary makeover. Organizers creatively employ low-cost, temporary measures to transform the appearance of a selected site, but only for a short period of time. During that period, organizers invite residents and officials to visit the targeted location. This is often used as a way to gather public perceptions of, or to generate public support for, more long-term changes. Often, imaginations are sparked and people will begin to think creatively about a space, they may have previously ignored or avoided.
How has it been done? In April 2013, organizers in Norfolk, Virginia turned an economically depressed, and physically unattractive three block area into a bustling arts district for a weekend. Volunteers opened a number of pop-up shops, including several art exhibitions and a coffee house. Artists painted wall murals. Organizers chalked temporary bike lanes, helping create a less car-centered and more people friendly atmosphere. Volunteers added plants and improved existing landscaping, to make the area more attractive. Project leaders conducted a neighborhood walking tour, to help participants imagine new possibilities for the area. The event produced a greater sense of excitement about the neighborhood. Afterwards, the organizers gathered data from participants and visitors about how this revitalization might be made permanent. (Source: Team Better Block: Norfolk)