Make your dream a reality: Submit an idea to Better Block PSU program

What streets can look like. (Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

What do Better Naito, the Southwest 3rd and Ankeny plaza, Steel Bridge Skatepark, bus priority lanes, and several other important bits of non-car infrastructure around Portland have in common? They all started as tactical urbanism and pop-up demonstration projects through Portland State University’s partnership with Better Block.

Since 2016, the nonprofit Better Block has cemented their collaboration with Portland State to bring amazing ideas for better streets and public spaces from dream into reality. For everyday activists, or anyone with an idea, Better Block gives you a pathway to the brilliant planners and engineers-in-training at PSU. And now that PSU and the Portland Bureau of Transportation have worked successfully together on several projects, the route from your idea to your infrastructure has never been more direct.

Each year, the Better Block PSU program launches a citywide search for the best ideas. The ones they select, get vetted, designed, planned — and maybe even funded and implemented!

Consider the Steel Bridge Skatepark and the big announcement that it has received $15 million to be constructed. A team of PSU students played a huge role in making that happen. They provided the planning data and analysis that helped make the case at City Hall and ultimately convince local elected officials and policymakers that the project was worth investing in.

Lise Ferguson, a second-year Master of Urban & Regional Planning (MURP) candidate who also works as an engineering intern at PBOT, was the project lead. She spent time at the site observing how people traveled around it to help inform the final design. “I am interested in ways to add more ‘third places’ to urban areas that are not necessarily commercial-based,” she shared in a statement from PSU. “It is important to activate the space by making it appealing to a wide variety of people, not just those who travel downtown to spend money.”

That’s a perspective many career planners and politicians often don’t have top-of-mind and it speaks to the value of keeping fresh voices and ideas around the table.

Do you have a fresh idea? You have until March 11th to submit it to the Better Block PSU program. Here are the questions they want you to consider before doing so:

  1. What is the location of your proposed Better Block project?
  2. What is this place like currently?
  3. What steps (if any) have you already taken around this project?
  4. What ideas do you have for re-imagining this space?
  5. Do you know of any existing partnerships or events that could help leverage this project?
  6. Who are the local leaders and champions for this idea?

Get to work and let’s see another excellent crop of projects. If you need inspiration, check out Better Block’s guide to pop-up projects.

And stay tuned for BikePortland stories when they get funded and implemented!

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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