In May 2012, Better Block OKC transformed a quiet block in Midtown Oklahoma City into a vibrant neighborhood complete with crosswalks, landscaping, and retail shops for a weekend. Better Block is designed to show examples of best practices in urban design and programming so that community members can see the big impact that small changes could make.

Event co-chairs Allison Barta Bailey and Kristen Vails gave a talk at the recent TEDxOUSalon: An Afternoon of Urban Inspiration, sponsored by the Institute for Quality Communities. A video of their talk is embedded in this post.

Advice about transforming your community from Kristen and Allison:

  • Don’t be discouraged: Just because the Devon Tower was going up in Oklahoma City, didn’t mean there wasn’t room for our event.
  • Divide and conquer: We couldn’t have done it by ourselves. Letting volunteers develop projects on their own was a better decision.
  • Respect and value existing leadership: It was important to involve people who have been leading in the community for many years. They have kept the conversation going in an entirely different group of people.
  • Today’s volunteers are tomorrow’s leaders: Since Better Block, we have seen the volunteers from the event doing awesome things in the community. And we now know about them, because we’re friends with these people.