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Our Favorite Moments of 2018

Each staff member was asked to share his/her favorite moment in 50 words. Most of us had a hard time choosing just one—and keeping it that short.

In 2018, we had set a goal to start building “epic” structures beyond a scale we’d ever attempted before. We began the year with a 20-feet long transit parklet, then assembled a large geodesic dome, and culminated our large structures with the 10-feet-tall and 54-feet-long barn exoskeleton. Seeing those first giant ribs go up in our parking lot will always stick out as one of my favorite moments at Better Block. —Jason Roberts, Founding Director

One of my favorite moments was sitting on a parklet in Grand Forks, North Dakota, talking about urbanism, dogs, and fried pickles. Or maybe it was cycling through Copenhagen with Reimagining the Civic Commons on a summer morning. Or maybe it was lunch on the rooftop with 880 Cities. Or perhaps it was watching a woman dance with her cane through a newly activated parking lot. Obviously, I’m struggling choosing just one moment. But the one thing they have in common is that they all feature neighbors gathering together to dream about making the world better. —Krista Nightengale, Managing Director

With a little paint and a basketball goal, the parking lot turned into a place to play at White Flint Placemaking.

My favorite moment of 2018 came during the White Flint Placemaking Festival, when after all of the vendors had packed up and left and the music had ended, a group of people would not leave. They ended up staying long past the scheduled events, sharing a beer with friends around the firepits. Witnessing the community embrace and utilize our newly created pop-up park showed us that we had succeeded in providing a comfortable and accessible community gathering space for the Randolph Hills neighborhood. —Colin Amos, Project Manager

I’ve had many great moments over the last year, but some of my favorites come from working out of the Exchange House. Whether I was working inside the house or out in the backyard, I loved seeing how this broad community comes together. Firsthand, you can really see the excitement and energy for working together and building a strong community. —Dylan Adams, Architectural Designer

We collaborated on a mural for Southern Made Donuts in Oak Cliff.

To me, 2018 at the Exchange House was the year of food. We ate samosas and chow mein, street tacos and homemade salsa, jerk pork and chicken with irie slaw, huge plates of pasta, rolls of sushi, fried chicken and deep-dish pizza, fried perch and collard greens. —Katie Beck, Exchange House Manager

My favorite moment would be attending the East Hillside Community Club meeting in Duluth for the Hillside Better Block project. Community members, as well as the area city council member, were excited to welcome Better Block to Duluth. Their enthusiasm for the project was palpable, and their hospitality was generous.  —Jessica Puckett, Program/Development VISTA

Working with the JOG students was my favorite experience from 2018. Being able to teach design, tools, and construction in a hands-on environment was very rewarding. By the end of their terms, they were comfortable with hand and power tools; useful skills to have for home maintenance or future employment.  —Zachary Forney, Architectural Designer

One of my favorite moments of 2018 was Making Healthy Decisions because 14 girls had the opportunity to learn about basic reproductive rights and resources. Not only did this program empower them to make their own decisions but also how to balance a new culture with the older generations’ expectations. —Neema Tamang, Community Engagement VISTA

Favorite moment of 2018? Building the cheese barn for SXSW, of course! It really proved how big we could go with our builds. But the best parts were seeing how sharp it turned out, the un-brie-lievable turn out, and having a gouda time together after all the hard work. —Olivia Rodriguez, Architectural Designer

Part of the scene at the Hillside Better Block in Duluth.

One of my favorite, most memorable community partners involved in 2018 was Global Ties Akron, a nonprofit group that provides international exchange programs that tour and discuss varied topics focused on refugee and immigrant communities. This past year, Global Ties hosted delegates from Serbia, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and Lebanon. I appreciated learning about the delegates, their home countries, and mission in life. —Kiara Brown, Exchange Outreach VISTA


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