Building A Better Block Together
Imagine rapid prototyping meets urban planning and community organizing with a festival vibe – that is what Better Blocks brought to Louisville’s Shelby Park neighborhood. “Better Block Foundation educates, equips, and empowers communities and their leaders to reshape and reactivate built environments to promote the growth of healthy and vibrant neighborhoods.” Center For Neighborhoods staff have been dreaming and working for over a year to bring Better Block to Louisville. Center for Neighborhoods with the support of several community partners, including Access Ventures, that dream has come true.
According to Tom Stephens, executive director of The Center For Neighborhoods, their team chose to launch the program locally in Shelby Park because of its strong neighborhood identity, rich history and highly involved leadership at the neighborhood level. They recognized great potential and momentum in Shelby Park and their perception was confirmed by the excitement and energy among the diverse crowds who turned out to enjoy the amenities offered on a beautiful late-spring day.
A community design workshop organized by CFN “created a series of conceptual site plans and led to a final site design for both physical improvements and community programming resulting in a three-day festival atmosphere while allowing residents and visitors to experience a renewed corridor.” The goal of the effort was not to present only a plan for how the neighborhood could be transformed but to bring an idea to life during a weekend demonstration of an alternate design for the streets around the block starting at Oak and Logan streets. The set-up was intensive, achieved by dozens of volunteers over two days.
The set-up involved closing Logan and Shelby streets to motorists and narrowing traffic to one lane on Oak, making room for cyclists and pedestrians to freely and safely enjoy the park-like spaces that popped up along the corridor. Not only does this make the area more pleasant for resident families and safer for children to play – making changes to the way that people interact with the area could provide a boost to businesses in the surrounding area.
Access Ventures was pleased to support this effort to activate a human-centered design for the neighborhood’s streets. We long to see Shelby Park viewed as a thriving destination, a part of town where people want to be rather than an area people drive through. It is not enough to rely on spillover from the growing adjacent neighborhoods like Germantown; therefore, we want to support, build, and partner with solutions that are growing up from within the community. We would love to see elements such as bike lanes, additional greenery and park benches become permanent fixtures of the Shelby Park neighborhood. Learn more about our vision to see communities revitalized through the creative deployment of capital into tailored, integrated, and holistic solutions.
Written by Emily Brandon @embrandon3