Pop-up Calm Street at Dutchtown Better Block
With funding from the Norman J. Stupp Foundation, Trailnet partnered with the Dutchtown South Community Corporation for the Dutchtown Better Block on Saturday, September 20. Beautiful blue skies and sunshine welcomed residents of all ages to join a variety of vendors on historic Virginia Avenue.
Up and down the avenue, closed to traffic, residents witnessed a transformation of their neighborhood. The atmosphere was a-buzz with the chatter of residents. Laughing and smiling, residents enjoyed the festive activities, delicious food, and being part of the positive change in their community. With the help of volunteers, Trailnet created a pop-up Calm Street with mock curb extensions, painted crosswalks, and “Sheryl’s” – a female version of sharrows. Eco Constructors donated 240 feet of erosion control material to create the curb extensions.
Tabling on a curb extension that represented what could be a rain garden, Trailnet’s Jennifer Allen discussed our Calm Streets project with residents. Calm Streets are residential streets transformed to reduce speeding and provide safety for everyone traveling there. Presenting a map of the region, Jennifer encouraged residents to map their dream Calm Street – marking their routes and destinations. We were able to connect with residents of all ages and backgrounds in this vibrant community.
As you may have heard, Trailnet was one of 12 organizations awarded an Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement by the Environmental Protection Agency. This award will allow us to continue our Calm Streets St. Louis project and work with Dutchtown, one of three opportunity areas on which the project is focused.
Grabbing a paintbrush and a cup of bright green, blue, yellow, or red paint, residents pitched in to help local artist Cbabi Bayoc with an intersection painting at Virginia Avenue and Liberty Street. Another artistic element at the event was a colorful mural at Itaska and Virginia painted by Screwed Arts Collective. Attendees enjoyed the Photo booth Kiosk in front of the mural and resident Andrea Fortson expressed her thanks “The mural is beautiful and it definitely brightens our neighborhood.” For those seeking a creative outlet, the t-shirt design for Dutchtown and graffiti wall with doodles and words of inspiration were of interest. Many attendees also checked out Urban Matter, a unique shop on Virginia Avenue that sells new, old, and handmade items.
Mouth-watering smells enticed residents to check out local vendors Five Ace BBQ, Gooseberries, Mi Hungry Food truck, St. Louis Kettle Corn, Pie Craft, Original Crusoes Drink Bar, and AAA Thai and European. Pop-up shops, like the Little Red Reading House, were a huge hit. The shop included a book box where attendees could rent a book and give a book back.
The Chess Pocket Park offered up some fun competition between residents of all ages. Children were thrilled to show off their animal, hat, or sword balloons. A few residents added another touch of color planting flower beds all along Virginia Avenue.
As dusk approached, residents turned the lawn into a dance floor, grooving to the Electric Slide and the Cupid Shuffle. Continuing the good vibes, poets took to the stage for spoken word. Children crowded close with their balloons to sit at the poets’ feet. The sun set and attendees unfolded their blankets and brought out their lawn chairs for a family-friendly movie and a pleasant end to a wonderful community event.
Trailnet has always known that Dutchtown is special. Its residents and elected officials have always had a deep love for their neighborhood and have been devoted to its constant improvement. It was wonderful to be part of an event that was such a powerful representation of true community.