Shortly after we completed our first Better Block project, we started receiving calls from around the country from other community organizers interested in putting together their own street repair project. Jonathan Bolzle, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, was one of the first people to contact us for advice on getting started. A year later, Bolzle and his team completed their project dubbed “Polishing the Pearl”. I just got back from visiting Tulsa, and was blown away at what they’ve accomplished. Typros pulled out all of the stops and were able to clean out several historic buildings, while thinning 6th Street into a more walkable district. By mid-day Saturday, hundreds had already come out and were happily enjoying the day and the revived block. Merchants of all flavors setup a series of pop-up shops including handmade jewelers, coffee shops, kids art studios, grocers, bakers, gelato shops, florists, and more. A lady and her daughter were making fresh Vietnamese egg rolls and pho in one of the spaces, the heavenly smell of which wafted throughout the corner.
The street is set to have a small canal installed along the center to help with flooding issues in the area. In the meantime, the vounteers setup a temporary canal using blue vinyl and cones. This allowed for a much safer environment for people crossing, and made the area feel more humane. Property owners who hadn’t really known eachother began a dialog which will continue from this proejct, and will inevitably help the area move forward rapidly.
All in all, this was an incredible event, and multiple businesses have planned to move in to the area partially due to the revisioning of the street set forth by the Tulsa Typros team. We hope to have a followup within the next few months to show how much this project has helped reshape the area.
The Tulsaworld newspaper wrote a great piece here on the project.
Click here for more pics.