Home > Design the Details > Reclaiming streets is reclaiming community

Reclaiming streets is reclaiming community



Street Scene


Anonymous Street Artist on Union Street

Block Party

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.

  1. Katie
    June 17, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Traverse City needs more block parties! Growing up behind Willow Hill we always had one on Cherokee Street, but I don’t remember seeing others in the neighborhood.
    Now we live @ 7th & Division so I’m not sure the city would let us close the street off right in front of our house! (being a major gateway to Munson) but nearly anywhere else in the Central Neighborhood would be perfect.
    Our neighbor on Maple Street closed off his block between 6th & 7th for a birthday party in the fall & it was great! Tons of kids running around, live music, a food truck, a petting zoo!
    In Portland, Oregon we participated in Sunday Parkways, which was pretty amazing. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/46103 It would be great to see something like that here in TC!

  1. June 17, 2013 at 11:04 am
  2. June 18, 2013 at 10:16 am

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