Reclaiming streets is reclaiming community
Anonymous Street Artist on Union Street
If you’re like me, you find it inspirational to see a child freely moving about their neighborhood street. It’s life affirming to see a group of children running from one side of the street to the next or riding a bike in circles or playing ping-pong in the northbound lane or rolling a hula hoop the length of a block or simply plopping down right where they are, breaking out the bucket-o-chalk and adding some color to the asphalt.
At least two block parties happened over the weekend in Traverse City. Undoubtedly, hundreds more happened across the country. Despite years of urban planning that has distanced us from our neighbors, block parties remain popular. I for one think they are healthy.
Block parties allow us to see a different use for the public space that all too much is single use focused. Worse, we have come to see that public space as a threat. The street as something to avoid and we’ve thus retreated from them. What has followed is a retreat from our front yards, then our front porches, and on the worse streets, with the highest speeds and most pollution, we’ve retreated from the front rooms.
Block parties, on any street, in any neighborhood, are a small step in reclaiming that public space and by extension, broadening our sense of home.
Please, party on.
The procedure is fairly easy in Traverse City to block off a street. Go for it.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of writers previously published here or any of the organizations, committees, commissions or other affiliation the authors may belong to, unless so stated.