Better Block is Here: A Behind the Scenes Look
(Part 2 of 2)
Story By: Katie Cassaro
When thinking of great cities, places we’d like to travel and explore, they’re usually far away and require either a plane ticket or passport.
But what if we made our very own cities so exciting and full of life that we never wanted to leave?
The North Hill Community Leaders (NHCL) group and Better Block are doing this – revitalizing old buildings, planting trees and putting local food, art and culture on display.
It’s the idea TED introduced to the world and the North Hill community has been working on to create the ultimate place to live, work and play.
These unique transformations of cities are designed to allow them to fully blossom into their full potential as thriving places.
Open Streets Initiative
Tina Ughrin, North Hill resident and member of NHCL, hopes this isn’t just a passing story that fades within a feature story of the daily paper. She wants the stories to be shared of the day-in-day-out transformation and how they are getting to where they are going.
This includes the stages and happenings leading up to the ultimate change. One of which happened this past weekend – Better Block.
“(We want to) tell the stories of all the pieces leading up to it so that you’re building that anticipation for it,” Ughrin said of the transformation.
Ughrin has high hopes for the city.
Ughrin and others see the potential in North Hill, and all that it can become.
“I love the idea that you’ve got the burgeoning Arts District right across the bridge. There’s so much potential for a whole corridor of revitalization,” she said.
“Jason Roberts has become very enamored with North Hill and is looking at other ways to invest in it,” she continued.
Roberts is the Founder of Better Block, who shared his idea with the world at a TED conference.
North Hill is an interesting place, and now people get to see and experience that through tours.
Their Market tours brought in 60 people the first time it was offered, mostly young professionals.
And they fill up quickly.
As a result of the tours, many young professionals have shown interest and gotten involved.
Creating a Generous Community
“What was exciting to see on social media and I heard it from a lot of the young professionals that were on the tour was ‘It feels like we’re in a big city. I feel like I’m someplace else ‘cause we went to an African market, we went to a Nepalese market and to Redeemer Hill United Methodist Church’ which is an aging congregation and almost everyone’s over the age of seventy’,” Ughrin shared.
There’s a Bhutanese Christian community, a large homeless ministry and a food and clothing giveaway that also draws in interest.
“The young professionals asked ‘How do we help out?’ And immediately, within that next week they did a clothing drive and dropped off as many clothes as possible. They asked Reverend Debbie, ‘What are you missing?’ ‘What do you not have?’ And they made sure it happened,’ Ughrin shared.
They also got a U-Haul and helped a woman move out of her house.
“It’s very much that millennial swoop in, take care of it,” Ughrin said.
Building Up a Good Place
As momentum builds and people start to see change, Ughrin and her neighborhood hope to spark a change further than the corners of their block – beyond the streets of just their city. In North Hill and all over Akron.
“There’s a number of folks that are hoping to see North Hill as a pilot for doing it in other neighborhoods,” Ughrin said.
So maybe your block is next?
As for what needs to happen for our communities to continue to grow and flourish, Ughrin says “We really need to find champions in each of the neighborhoods.”
Are you that champion?
If you are interested in bringing this to your city, and finding out more about Better Block please visit: www.teambetterblock.com/akron/