Crowdsourcing a ‘Better Block’ in Memphis

Inspired by the Better Block Program in Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas that crowdsourced a weekend demonstration of what a downtown street should be like, Memphis hosted their own last November. Located on Broad Street, the event, “A New Face for Old Broad“, attracting 13,000 attendees.

Pat Brown, co-owner of T. Clifton Art Gallery on Broad, sums it up nicely, “It’s easier for any of us to envision what the future can be if you can see it, touch it and taste it as well. Instead of looking at a piece of paper, we want people to experience it

Some important community-involving elements:
– Temporary repainting of the street to include bike lanes, which still remain.
– Each of the four schools in the neighborhood designing and painting a crosswalk.
– Vacant commercial properties staging several pop-up businesses and six restaurants (currently located elsewhere in Memphis) to demonstrate possible permanent uses.
– Live music and children’s activities throughout the event.

The key to these demonstration events is to spur new investment. Some examples announced in May 2011 include:
– Design work for a major new bike path system.
– A significant new mural by French artist Guillaume Alby to beautify warehouses on the street.
– An overlay plan for future Broad business development to attract the kinds of businesses the neighborhood wants.
– Grant funding for artistic bike racks and trash cans.

The event was created via a partnership between Livable Memphis and the Historic Broad Avenue Arts District.

Learn to develop your own Better Block with the How to Build a Better Block guide.