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Building Community Block by Block

Better Blocks is a nationwide movement that encourages communities to improve their neighborhoods through short "living charrettes," or prototypes, that reinvision small sections of a streetscape for a few days.

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Better Blocks is a nationwide movement that encourages communities to improve their neighborhoods through short "living charrettes," or prototypes, that reinvision small sections of a streetscape for a few days.


A grassroots effort, Better Blocks organization elements from "complete streets" (www.completestreets.org) to help design livable/desirable streets and demonstrate what the surrounding spaces look and act like. They prototype crosswalks, bike lanes, sidewalk cafes or public plazas. Other temporary elements include traffic islands and curb extensions to bring the multiple types of transportation modes back into balance. Through quick exercises and DIY build-outs, the entire community can experience what a better scenario feels like. The event highlights the issues by visualizing them and can provide momentum to illicit change.


Projects like these bring to light the attributes that make communities more attractive and sticky for all residents. A recent study by Gallup and the Knight Foundation (www.soulofthecommunity.org)showedthese attributes can actually begin to improve an area's overall economy.


The movement demonstrated by the Better Block projects can be summarized by three words that can impact all of our streets, neighborhoods and, eventually, cities: intent, realization and participation.


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Photo of Meena Kadri

So great that this is focused on sparking community action. And OpenIDEO *loves* prototypes!