Andrew Howard

5 June 2013 — The Geelong Better Block, the first in Australia, will be created on June 15.

The event promotes safe and walkable communities, encouraging a transition to a healthy and sustainable Geelong.

The Geelong community has come together to create a temporary street activation in Little Malop and James streets where retail vacancies almost outnumber local business.

Organiser Suzette Jackson said with support from local transition town groups and the Geelong Sustainability Group “we will enable a more sustainable, healthy and livable streets that are pedestrian and cycle friendly with locally sourced, quality, food and products if only for a day”.

Community groups, local artists, poets and street performers will activate the space supported by local business and the Geelong Better Block volunteer crew. The GBB volunteers are a  local community with a passion for developing a more sustainable city and stronger regional economy.

The Geelong community was inspired by The Better Block lecture and workshop, held as part of the Geelong Sustainable Living series in February this year.

Co-founder Andrew Howard engaged with over 130 Geelong residents sharing knowledge on how The Better Block team in the USA re-activate urban areas with high retail vacancies and low pedestrian and cycling usage.

His tour is at https://vimeo.com/66305115.

“With the Better Block Australian Tour 2013 video recently released we are seeing greater interest from local business and community in utilising a temporary installation to activate urban spaces,” Ms Jackson said.

“We tend to forget that these streetscapes form part of our urban spaces and can be used for more than vehicle access and parking.

“Proactive councils Australia-wide use frequent street closures to activate urban centers, with community activities and markets, developing stronger local community and economy.”

Ms Jackson said Geelong Better Block supported and engaged local business and arts community with community built up-cycled street furniture, locally produced food and vegie boxes, art installations, street performances, bicycle parking, workshops and a cycling forum.

Workshops will be held in local businesses including Beav’s Bar, Karingallery and Dish Café.

A cycling forum at 1pm in Beav’s Bar is expected to attract many local cyclists particularly with the numerous transport strategies currently underway in Geelong. Guest speakers will include Bike Safe’s Barton van Laar, Geelong cyclist and antique bike collector Rod Charles and Danish journalist Mik Aidt.

See our story:  Geelong Cycling Forum to boost rider numbers