Activating the Street: Glass Street Live : The Barlew Blog

David Barlew Architects is a Chattanooga-based architecture firm founded in 1978 by David Barlew, Sr. Our diverse practice has experience in the design and renovation of mixed-use developments, schools, offices, commercial centers and medical facilities. Local projects designed by David Barlew Architects in the past 5 years include Renaissance Square, a two story, mixed-use building completed in 2008 on Martin Luther King Boulevard by The 28th Legislative District Community Development Corporation; the Temporary Twelve-Bed Intensive Care Unit at Erlanger Hospital; Sing It Or Wing It, a karaoke bar and restaurant in downtown Chattanooga (interior design by Christi Homar); and the Auditorium Building Renovation and Addition at Cleveland State Community College for the Tennessee Board of Regents. David Barlew Architects has also volunteered time for the Brainerd Road Corridor Master Plan, a nearly three year long community-led initiative to improve the Brainerd Community of Chattanooga.

David Barlew Architects, Inc. is a member of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

Activating the Street: Glass Street Live

by David Barlew, Jr. on 05/30/12

On April twenty-first, Glass House Collective hosted a phenomenal event called Glass Street Live. Their admirable goal: to bring the street (in this case, East Chattanooga's Glass Street) back to life through fun, food, and community.  And, they were fabulously successful.

As I've written multiple times on The Barlew Blog, animated and lively streets are essential to the health, vibrancy, and success of any community.  By hosting Glass Street Live, Glass House Collective didn't just create an entertaining afternoon of music, crafts, games, and t-shirt making; they did the important work of showing neighborhood residents as well as the city at large the incredible potential of the community around Glass Street.

Glass house Live took place from ten in the morning until well after four in the afternoon on a gorgeous spring Saturday, and at every moment there was a variety of activities from which to choose. On April twenty-sixth, I blogged about one of those activities: the making of the HERE banner. But, there was so much more.

Glass Street Live featured the usual tents that populate community events.

And balloons.

But, there was also excellent live music---and even some dancing.

Glass Street Live provided valuable educational content as well. For example, wildlife officials with Tennessee State Parks were on hand with all sorts of animal pelts teaching neighborhood kids about local fauna.


Speaking of fauna, there were horses.

And for flora, well, there was a demonstration truck farm on site. I had never considered filling a truck bed with soil and then planting it with vegetables.  It turns out that truck farming is a big trend. Who knew?

I also learned that there are actually special liners one can purchase if one wishes to convert his or her truck into a mobile farming operation.

Glass Street Live welcomed the fun antics of happy clowns.

And, kids had the chance to make colorful, personalized bird houses.

Everyone had the chance to try their hand at silk-screening.

And, outside, everyone had the opportunity to participate in a public brainstorming session, jotting ideas, hopes, and dreams on a giant cube at the corner of Glass and Chamberlain.

Glass Street Live was an exceptionally well-planned and thoroughly entertaining event, and I think the event did a lot to illustrate the untapped potential of the community near Glass Street. Many of the buildings along Glass Street may be dilapidated and neglected, but the spirit of the community is alive and well. That so many people were happy to come out and enjoy the afternoon together shows the vibrancy of a community that doesn't have enough opportunities for expression, obscured by the decay of the local built environment.

With some work, though, those broken buildings can be revived, and the neighborhood can be restored. To that end, Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise is hosting the Glass Street Clean-Up as part of their NeighborGood Week.

The clean-up will take place on June fifth from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm. It starts at 2523 Glass Street. To participate, email volunteer [at] cneinc [dot] com.  

The Glass Street Clean-Up is an opportunity to participate actively in the revitalization of a community. Glass House Collective has already shown Chattanooga the incredible potential of the community around Glass Street. Now, with CNE's help, it is time to start turning that potential into reality by picking up a neighborhood's broken pieces one at a time.

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