Jason Roberts founded The Better Block (now The Better Block Foundation) in 2010, and in a few short years his work has taken off like a rocket ship. His infamous TedX video (click here to view) has inspired thousands (including myself), and garnered him international acclaim.
Roberts started The Better Block when a group of community organizers, neighbors, and property owners gathered together to revitalize a single commercial block in an underused neighborhood corridor. The area was filled with vacant properties, wide streets, and few amenities for people who lived within walking distance. The group brought together all the resources from the community and converted the block into a walkable, bikeable neighborhood destination for people of all ages complete with bike lanes, cafe seating, trees, plants, pop-up businesses, and lighting. The project was developed to show the city how the block could be revived to improve area safety, health, and economics if ordinances that restricted small business and multi-modal infrastructure were removed. Since that time, Better Block projects have been developed throughout the world with many of the temporary infrastructure improvements and businesses made permanent.
I had the opportunity to recently see Roberts live, and his work continues to evolve and impress me. A YouTube of that talk is linked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7jcy1FTl0U starting at 2:09:00. It’s about an hour long, but well worth your time if you care deeply about your neighborhood and your city. I PROMISE you will be inspired. If you want the short version, click on the 18 minute Ted talk linked above.
A couple of years ago, the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority launched our own Better Block initiative right here in our community thanks to grant funding from Gulfstream Corporation. We invite you to help us take the germ of this idea and enable it to grow on our streets, buildings and public spaces. We just need your energy and ideas.