Showing Shreveport the Value of “Human-Scaled” Public Spaces
One of the core principles ReForm promotes is the use of public spaces for people over vehicular transportation. Streets with little traffic do not need to be wide, parking can be removed or relocated into structures allowing people to re-occupy the ground level of public spaces as humans have done for millennia.
A popup parklet is the perfect way to demonstrate that when people feel welcomed into common spaces, they will take to those areas like fish to water. It is in our nature to congregate in public squares and share spaces together.
What We Did
Prize Foundation, creators of the Louisiana Film, Music, and Food Prizes, gave ReForm the resources to take over the 500 block of Louisiana during its annual Prize Fest. Shreveport Police, Fire, and Emergency Services were consulted to provide for public safety concerns, and signatures were acquired from adjacent businesses to block part of the street, which would (intentionally) reduce the number of parking spaces and transform those spaces and one lane of travel into a public park complete with festoon lighting, lounge seating, benches, picnic tables, shade, greenery, vendor tents, and games. The parklet was pre-visualized using Sketchup to provide a game plan for the short time period we would have Wednesday night to execute the setup of the park.
Four vendors - Taqueria La Michoacana, Counter Culture Frozen Yogurt, Day Old Blues Records, and Golden Threaded Clothing were specifically selected as high quality small businesses that compliment the existing retail and restaurant spaces adjacent on Texas Street. The food trucks were provided with on-site power to reduce the noise associated with generators. Caddo Career Center students helped produce a large tic-tac-toe game. Great Raft Brewing supplied an oversized version of cornhole using bean bag chairs. Shreveport Downtown Development Authority cleaned up the sidewalks, filled holes, and provided park benches. Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation (SPAR) brought out picnic tables. Bike Shreveport brought out a bike rack for holding bikes. Garrison’s Home and Garden provided flowers and small plants. The parklet was open during the festival from Thursday, October 4 through Saturday, October 6th.
Successful Proof of Concept
The Prize Parklet saw hundreds of guests throughout the three days of operation. Guests gave verbal feedback about how they wish downtown Shreveport had a courtyard or square with similar amenities year-round. While Shreveport has broken ground on Common Park on the west side of downtown, it’s still too far for many to walk on their lunch break and won’t be completed until mid-2019. We would like to see a local business or the city to invest a small sum in tables, shade, and space for the public to gather in or adjacent to the Central Business District similar to what we presented during Prize Fest.