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Ideas for Main Street showcased Friday - Chatham Star Tribune: News

Ideas for Main Street showcased Friday

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Posted: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 10:41 am

The idea was to show people what makes a complete street in the free “Re-imagine the Street at Main” event with vendors and games on Friday in the 900 block of Main Street in Danville. It demonstrated the inclusiveness of a complete street design and was a collaborative effort with many local entities including City of Danville’s Community Development Department and Danville Regional Foundation.

“This summer has been the first time I’ve been in Danville,” Virginia Tech graduate student Bryce Johnson said. “I love it here to be honest. I looked up Danville, saw that there was some good stuff happening and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Johnson is in his second year at Tech as a master’s degree student and studies urban and regional planning. He organized the event through his internship with the Danville Regional Foundation. Johnson became interested in the internship when he saw that it was being advertised by Virginia Tech.

Johnson designed “Reimagine the Street” as a popup infrastructure event designed to demonstrate the potential of Danville’s streets to be inclusive spaces for all people, while still allowing for car traffic. The temporary street transformation aimed to provide an example of a complete street, which is less car-centric, safer, provides better accessibility, and facilitates active living.

Complementing this goal were several health-oriented activities and games organized by community groups.

“This is basically a concept put forward by people across the nation and in other countries as well,” Johnson said. “The idea is that streets don’t just have to be about cars. In a way, they’re incomplete if they’re just about cars. Cities have been around for thousands of years, so we’ve had streets around for that long. Cars haven’t been around that long, so in a way, it’s only complete once we start putting in the people, the bicyclist and make it handicap accessible again.”

The event included a healthy food demonstration, free food to make a recipe at home, a miniature park, popup play spaces, health and community education activities, free health screenings and crafts. All activities were organized to be both informative and fun.

“This type of work is kind of what got me into urban and regional planning to begin with,” Johnson said. “I really enjoyed the fact that the way streets and the urban environments are put together doesn’t just have to be about cars. It can promote a community like this.”

Organizations involved in the project included the Health Collaborative, Danville Regional Foundation, Danville Department of Community Development, Danville Parks and Recreation, Danville Public School System Child Nutrition Program, Friends of the Old West End, community health workers, the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, First Presbyterian Church, God’s Storehouse, and History United.

“I think people will come and see what streets can be in the future,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t have to be all about the cars. Cars are nice, they get us from point A to point B very easily but I want Danville to know that this is a possibility. It doesn’t have to be concentrated just in downtown. I want people to know that their streets are places where they can do activities, and feel safe and included.”

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