old brooklyn's pop-up pearl will help residents imagine a more vibrant future

Old Brooklyn has long been considered a hidden gem by its residents. Minutes from downtown and within walking distance of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the neighborhood boasts quiet, tree-lined streets and a bevy of independent shops and friendly taverns.

Yet neighborhood advocates are hoping it won't be a well-kept secret much longer. That's why they've organized Pop Up Pearl, a one day block party that will fill the empty storefronts on Pearl Avenue with shops, entertainment and food vendors, and invited their neighbors to join in the festivities.

The event, which is modeled after the Better Block project in Dallas, Texas, is intended to act as a living charrette that allows visitors, residents and property owners to imagine a more vibrant future for Old Brooklyn's downtown. They're also hoping to attract investment after the party is over.

Pop Up Pearl, which was spearheaded by the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation (OBCDC), takes place on Pearl Road between Wildlife Way and State Road this Saturday, May 21st from noon until dusk. It will include a "complete streets" demonstration, adding temporary bike lanes along Pearl Road. Entertainment from Progressive Arts Alliance and other groups also is planned.

Pop Up Pearl will also feature a youth arts studio with zoo-themed artwork from local nonprofit ArtHouse, artwork fashioned from recycled materials from Nicole McGee of Plenty Underfoot, and a shop filled with 100 percent locally made goods from Crafty Goodness in Lakewood.

The Better Block project began when a grassroots group transformed a city street in Oak Cliff, Texas into an inclusive, pedestrian- and bike-friendly street. Better Blocks projects "increase the perception of safety in an area, stimulate economic activity in vacant or blighted corridors and help to implement 'Complete Streets' projects," according to the group's website.

Source: Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation
Writer: Lee Chilcote