Hillside Gets a ‘Better Block’

Better Block and Zeitgeist Hold Community Event

DULUTH, Minn.- How can an organization from Texas bring people in Duluth together?

With music, food, fun, and lots of hot chocolate.

That’s how Better Block and the Zeitgeist “Places for People” campaign had local businesses and local people come together, to have a great time.

Kanya and Savant Atwater have been keeping busy with all they’ve been up to.

“Making s’mores, and eating, and having fun, and singing songs…and dancing.”

The Better Block organization helps communities around the country with “urban retrofitting” events, aimed at allowing local businesses and community members to imagine what they want their neighborhoods to be like.

The Friday night and Saturday morning event was also used to garner feedback. Attendees were encouraged to share what businesses they’d like to see in their neighborhood, as an apartment building with stores on the ground floor is expected to be built on the empty lot.

They could also test out a street redesign: the pedestrian crossings were modified to calm traffic to a safer speed. Bike lanes were also added.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into planning an event like this, and we’ve had a number of community members on our planning committee,” said Event Coordinator Shawna Mullen.

“But when you actually have it in place, it’s really exciting to see people show up and to say how much they like it, or to say how much fun they’re having.”

There’s definitely no shortage of families having fun.

Two children “weee!” with happiness on one of the teeter-totters.

Parents say the event allows their children to experience all their community has to offer.

“It’s just fun for the kids, to see the community that they live in and are a part of, and be a part of it,” said Kurt Drengler, here with his daughters Willow and Sequoia.

“They are very excited about the hot chocolate option that may be coming up in the near future.”

But for Willow, it’s all about the food.

She’s ecstatic to get a fresh Oreo cookie from the Chum stand,

Eventually, her moment arrives. She munches triumphantly, her smile full of black crumbs, and glee.


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