Chicago, Topiaries and Downtown Dallas. huh?


Last month Ariel and I took a trip to Chicago for the AMA Non-Profit Marketing conference. So what do you do in Chicago but enjoy the beautiful summer weather and walk, walk and walk? (We actually calculated the miles walked the 4 days we were there and it was over 10 miles.) As you can imagine, we saw a ton of interesting and inspiring things in the city, some on a personal level but also ideas to take back to somehow use for Downtown Dallas. No, we will not be building a Millennium Park.

On a side note, please realize that we DO understand that Dallas can never be a Chicago, NYC or San Fran…these are old cities where urban life has been a part of their culture since their beginning. However, Dallas is seeing a movement on the residential front Downtown. Our challenge is trying to change a culture that has never experienced this before, and honestly, “just how DO you live downtown?”

Moving right along, while we were on State Street and Michigan Avenue we noticed these landscape projects in the sidewalks. Each had a theme, The Centennial in Chicago and some odd Pirate one (awesome!) that only added to the pedestrian friendliness of the city. How friendly? Well Ariel made a stop and made a new friend.

Part of the State Street Landscape Project
Part of the State Street Landscape Project

So putting the thoughts of paragraph two and three together, we thought of a real opportunity for Downtown Dallas. We need Downtown to feel like a community, of people that is… to make it another “neighborhood” of Dallas, just as Oak Cliff, Lakewood, etc. If you’ve ever been around the Main Street District and talk to the thousands of residents that live there, there is already a sense of pride and ownership.

In our brainstorming, we thought of creating these “community projects” for the general masses (from existing residents to people who have no current connection to Downtown) in which we at DOWNTOWNDALLAS help organize with a landscape architect – a themed pedestrian project in the tree wells and medians in specific locals that need extra sprucing up.. (Elm Street ring a bell?). Teams of volunteers could come out one Saturday and help us plant and put together the final plan, and the end result would be something that people would take pride in, tell their friends about and create a connection to the area.


What are your thoughts? Bueno idea? or help us flush it out further!


3 thoughts on “Chicago, Topiaries and Downtown Dallas. huh?

  1. Shana

    Community gardens and outdoor projects are a great way to build ownership and pride in a neighborhood. When living in NYC I would volunteer once or twice a month for different projects in the community via They had tons of fantastic opportunities from reading children’s books at the public library to cleaning up litter on the streets. It was so easy to sign up and get involved because it was all right there in one easy to search location. It would be great if we could create some sort of commprehensive list of the different ways people can get involved on a volunteer level.

  2. dfwcre8tive

    Great idea! While there are lots of little plazas and “green spaces” scattered downtown, there are few colorful plantings that make one pause to look at it. They become smelly dog areas until the grass dies and all that’s left is dirt and rocks. Finding hardy plants that like the shade and wind of downtown and resist dog urine would be important. It would be a great improvement and I think the community would support it. Even simple planters with colorful flowers add some excitement to the streetscape.

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