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You can help build a ‘Better Block’

Better Block for Livernois cropped

When people talk about Detroit’s resurgence, Midtown and downtown often take center stage, but the neighborhoods are just as changeable.

That “change agent” needn’t come from major construction projects, new businesses, or celebrity attention – it’s a change that can come from within.

That’s why Build a Better Block Foundation supports efforts to empower communities by helping them reshape their environment to promote more vibrant neighborhoods.

Next up is 16625 Livernois Ave. This “collaborative” event will take place Friday, April 22, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, April 23, from 8 a.m. to noon.

Better Block for Livernois

The two-day event will feature music, food vendors, and a narrowed street with bike lanes. All to prove Livernois can enjoy the same vibrancy as the most talked-about areas of the city.

“Better Block really works to have the community members leading the charge on making things happen in their own neighborhoods,” says project manager Monica Diodati.

Monica Diodati

Monica Diodati

Diodati says the larger goal is to get the community invested and excited about their neighborhood so they can meet the city halfway and make some of these changes permanent.

In Detroit, they have worked with University Commons, Live6 Alliance, Detroit Collaborative Design Center and the City of Detroit, to re-engage residents and stakeholders in the Livernois/McNichols corridor with their community.

“To do this, we’re hosting various workshops and build days to transform one block of Livernois (from Grove to Florence) from the ground up,” Diodati says. “We’ll have local entrepreneurs setting up food tents, volunteers painting temporary bike lanes and installing handmade crosswalks, Livernois bike shop setting up a pop-up bike rental station, and the university opening its gates to the street.”

According to Jason Roberts, founding director of Better Block, the concept goes back to 2010 in Dallas, Texas. Roberts and his friends were frustrated with the traditional city planning process. After seeing years of plans and renderings without any results they decided to go it alone, improving their own streets.

Jason Roberts

Jason Roberts

“We painted bike lanes, put in pop-up businesses, lined the streets with borrowed trees, and slowed down traffic for a day,” Roberts says. “The results spread across the globe, and now Better Block is an open-source tool for anyone to use to instigate change at the neighborhood level.”

Although temporary, this pop-up event can, in theory, instigate the type of change Diodati and Roberts are hoping to bring to Livernois and similar neighborhoods in Detroit.

There’s also another demonstration planned for Aug. 6 on Livernois and 7 Mile Rd.

“So we’ll use the momentum from this weekend to make an even bigger impact later this summer,” Diodati says.

For more information or to volunteer for this event, visit

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