Better Block demonstration at Forest Audelia Village helps redefine the neighborhood
Rendered courtesy of Better Block Foundation.
Additional reporting by Sally Wamre.
For a few weeks in October and November, the Forest Audelia Village car park will be transformed into a park exploring a long-term vision of space.
Project Safe Neighborhood is funding the demonstration which includes daily fitness classes, cultural music, food, drink, and resource-based initiatives such as pop-up clinics and homework help.
In recent months, the Oak Cliff-based Better Block Foundation has solicited feedback from residents and community leaders to determine how the project should be developed.
“I think some people are still wondering how to use a space like this. And that’s kind of what this month-long demo is for, testing a lot of different things, ”says Kristin Leiber, senior project manager at Better Block. “This is only the first version of a multi-step iteration. Here we will see several life cycles of the park.
Better Block’s goal is to brainstorm and execute temporary spaces throughout Dallas that encourage neighbors to rethink how places can be defined and allow them to make their own changes in the future.
Forest Audelia Village is a central point of the district, where many diverse communities converge: apartment complexes, single-family residences, a population of refugees and social housing.
“This park is an opportunity for people from different cultures to coexist in a meaningful way,” said Leiber.
Each activity is part of the park’s temporary space of approximately 50 feet by 70 feet. In this area there is a basketball court; open green space with shade, lights and seating; and a children’s play area with play blocks and rubber play tiles. A pedestrian path borders the perimeter, and a pedestrian crossing connects the event to the surrounding shopping center.
One of the supporters of the Better Block Project is Jamie Coleman, the pastor of Nexus Community Church, which serves more than 100 families in the neighborhood’s refugee and immigrant populations. Coleman says the park will help newcomers experience life in the United States and share their cultures with the community.
“Refugees who manage to escape unthinkable violence in their home country don’t want to experience the same things in their new backyard,” Coleman says. “Who wants this? This park is meant to reframe others’ perspective on what this space can be, and that’s the first step.
Jake Finch is a single-family homeowner and a five-year resident of the Woodbridge subdivision in Forest and Audelia, where he lives with his wife and their four children.