Sunday, May 27, 2012


I think street performers reveal a lot about the personality of a city. Their performances appear spontaneous (even if they are somewhat legislated.) and most often they provide just enough exposure to arts and culture to put a little zip into your day. You don't have get dressed up or even buy a ticket. A donation is appreciated, but not required. And you never know who this person may end up being...the next Lady Gaga or Wynton Marsalis?

Not every performing artist will make it to Bass Hall or even Billy Bob's. They may not want to. What they want to do is play their instrument, juggle a few balls, or amaze us as they pose tirelessly as a living statue.

I have seen them, and quite enjoyed them...Boston, Baltimore, NYC, New Orleans. It's part of the fabric of many cities. I remember a Julliard trained violinist who regularly dazzled people as they walked on Fifth Avenue in New York City. I frequently travelled into the city from my college dorm on Long Island. The violinist played on the sidewalk near one of my favorite stores, violin case open for contributions. He was quite accomplished. I recall reading stories about him in magazines and newspapers (no internet then...a time long ago!) that focused more on his financial gain than his musical talents. He was raking it in! Perhaps he did make it to Carnegie Hall!

Not all street performers have been trained at Julliard. And, as the article from The Atlantic Cities reveals, sometimes it shows!

Ears ringing from a truly awful jazz concert, officials in this Boston satellite city came this close to passing a ban on saxophones. The saga of how a single, tone-deaf street performer almost sparked an iron-fisted crackdown on the world's second-most-ridiculous wind instrument (seriously, there's one called a "Goofus"?) is entertainingly detailed in the Salem News, which quotes the city solicitor as saying, "I never realized how loud a saxophone could actually go." The offending musician had staked out a pedestrian mall and was playing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" over and over again, leading citizens to bombard city hall with furious phone calls. However, the Salem Licensing Board opted not to add "no saxophones" to its new set of street-performer regulations after councilman Bob McCarthy pointed out that not all practitioners of the instrument are terrible. (McCarthy's kid plays the saxophone in the school band.)

Monday, May 14, 2012


I had great fun sharing information about embRACE theSTREET with members of the Carter-Riverside Neighborhood Association last Wednesday night. Lots of conversation after my presentation led me to believe members of the association were almost as excited about this project as I am. Terri McIlraith, president of the association, is definitely excited. Check out her posts on our Better Block Facebook Page! Terri has already brought great ideas and many great people from the neighborhoods to the project.

Better Block is a grassroots effort that can only be successful when community support is the driving force for change. It's not just a neighborhood project -- it's a community project that is important to, and supported by, individuals and organizations across Fort Worth. It's a project that brings hope for revitalization, vitality, and economic growth to a specified area while radiating a spirit of community throughout the city.

I look forward to meeting with more neighborhood associations about this project. And renewing old friendships. As I was about to begin my presentation at the Carter-Riverside meeting, someone in the audience caught my attention...someone I hadn't seen in years. Teresa and her sister sat behind my family at TCU basketball home games. For me, going to the games was more about seeing "the sisters" than about the team. Now Teresa and her mother are going to help develop embRACE theSTREET. People definitely make this process fun! And it's only going to get better as we get closer to our September kick-off dates.

Please let us know if you live in a neighborhood in Riverside, or in any other neighborhood in the city, and want to get involved (no experience necessary), or your neighborhood association would like a presentation about the project.

Everyone is welcome to matter where you live. If you are unable to help produce this event, join us on Race Street September 8-9 to enjoy it!

Debby Stein
Production Team Leader

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

This Could be the Start of Something Big!

The visioning process has begun for embRACE theSTREET, a Build A Better Block project located in the 2800-2900 block of Race Street in Riverside, just northeast of downtown Fort Worth. Nearly 20 members of the Production Team* recently met for a walk-through of the area. Enthusiastic discussions about landscaping, parking, a community garden, pedestrian crosswalks, a dog park, pop-up galleries, food vendors, a bookstore-cafe, bike lanes and more, set the stage for a collective vision to transform Race Street into an arts and entertainment destination identified as the Riverside Arts District.

For more information, find us on Facebook -- Like Us! and send us an email at if you would like to help transform Race Street. It has already been determined that this project will be fun!

*Production Team members live and work in various neighborhoods throughout Fort Worth. They include architects, planners, master gardeners, artists, property owners, neighborhood leaders, and community volunteers who care about the future of Riverside and understand the impact revitalization can have on this area.

Debby Stein
Production Team Leader