We began the day by taking a look back at yesterday's Arts District Better Block, an edible experiment augmented by the goings-on up and down Flora. But Grimes reminded me earlier: Saturday was also Deep Ellum's turn up to the Better Block chopping block, courtesy organizer Brandon Castillo's attempt to replicate earlier successes along Davis Street in Oak Cliff. At which point Patrick Michels chimed in and said he'd driven past the set-up and was not impressed. Said he: "Looked like the scene of a riot three hours after it'd been broken up."
Patrick "Car-Free" Kennedy agrees. Over on Walkable DFW he posts his account of the day's doings and writes there was nothing much doing at all, matter of fact. Which may have something to do with the fact Castillo, who lives in Plano, built his Better Block all by his lonesome and without the support of the community -- all the makings of a cautionary tale. (And, perhaps, just maybe, could be, possibly the Rally to Restore Sanity offshoot at Lee Harvey's kept some folks otherwise preoccupied.) Writes Kennedy, who offers copious visual proof, Deep Ellum's Better Block failed because it was lifeless, bereft of energy -- a wall of steel barricades and empty storefronts, not a panoply of greenery and people.
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The common emotion of suburban style development is one of fear, of retrenchment, backing away from any form of engagement with anyone else, the bad scary "other." The emotion behind the Better Block is one of love, of re-engagement, of curiosity of what others are up to, and wanting to meet and be around other people.
But the emotion that has made the Better Block so successful is brazenness. Where bureaucracy, political timidity, or ineptitude all too often prevent places for people, the Better Block just did it, inspired by an outgrowth of frustration with all of the above.