Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Better Block Gets Better

Actually, I don't know if it was better this week. I wasn't able to get down there until the end of the day when everything was wrapping up and cleaning up, so I missed the BBQ and the crowds. You can see reviews of this past weekend's Oak Cliff Better Block project here, here, here, and from Jason Roberts himself here:

In the end, it’s all about the people and giving families young and old a safe, comfortable, and dignified area to live in. When we build for cars only, we make things fast, unsafe, and less humane…we adopted an 8 and 80 rule, where we should look at our community from the eyes of an 8 year old and the eyes of an 80 year. If it feels safe for those two age ranges, it will be safe for everyone. Our city needs to refocus its priorities and think about what it is that people really want in a community. For the price of a single Calatrava bridge, we could have built a thousand Better Blocks…and made them permanent.

One wonders how the City of Dallas handles the notoriety this is generating nationwide. The actual concepts aren't new. Many are borrowed from organic happenings in San Francisco and Brooklyn, where similar young creatives are applying creativity to the world around them, shaping it, and their lifestyle.

While it generates positive press for the citizenry of Dallas, it is at the same time showing the ineffectual nature of the levers of power (institutional or otherwise) within the city erstwhile focused on building bridges, more performing arts centers than are groceries in much of South Dallas, and casino looking convention center hotels without the fun vice, none of which are nearly as effective in fostering community, improved quality of life, AND generating positive return on investment as the donations and efforts behind the movement in Oak Cliff.

If all goes well, I plan on discussing the relevance of Better Block on Dallas itself and the 21st American City for a print article to be announced when it is printed.