Always on the go, Roberts is involved in myriad projects and groups in Oak Cliff and around Dallas. Photo courtesy Jason Roberts
Much has been written about community activist, urban planning enthusiast, and Oak Cliff resident Jason Roberts. His energy is infectious as he spreads the gospel of urban revitalization around the world: building better neighborhoods by transforming vacant and underused properties into vibrant, thriving blocks abuzz with business, activity, and local participation.
His Better Block concept started in spring 2010 in a small part of North Oak Cliff, where Roberts asked the questions, “why are these buildings vacant and what can we do to rapidly transform them in days, not years, into bike- and pedestrian-friendly places that people love?”
The answer was a rapidly planned weekend project that created pop-up shops, filling underused or vacant spaces with the businesses he wished the area had: coffee shops, flower shops, and cafes, among others.
Better Block has since gone from a local experiment to a national and international model for urban redevelopment that showcases the possibilities in a neighborhood, no matter its current state.