Small Ways to Make a Difference in Hemming Plaza: Picnic in the Plaza

Inaugural Picnic in the Plaza

Our challenge in revitalizing Hemming Plaza is quite simply figuring out a way to bring more people to the Plaza.  And one of the best practices for bringing more people to a public space is programming through free or low cost activities and vendors. On a large scale, consistent year-round programming often takes dedicated management. But on a small scale, sustainable, low-cost, low-risk activities can help create a trend, as DVI proved last Friday.

The public space: Hemming Plaza, neighbor to City Hall, the Main Library and MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Arts), is known for its nuisance activity.  The challenge: spend little-to-no money to bring people out of the surrounding office buildings for lunch. The solution: Picnic in the Plaza, a Friday lunchtime pop-up gathering of friends and coworkers, open to all.

DVI set the date and time, gathered the basic supplies: camp chairs, picnic blankets and lawn games, secured a “to-go” special from a nearby restaurant and used personal e-mail invites and social media to spread the word. The “event” was “BYOP,” or “bring your own picnic.”

This grassroots gathering welcomed more than 100 people to the Plaza for lunch, including Mayor Brown and Councilman Brown. Based on the success, DVI’s staff has committed to continue the pop-up picnics each Friday, weather permitting for the foreseeable future. We hope you’ll join us.

View photos from the first Picnic in the Plaza here.

Please share your ideas for small ways to make a difference in our comment section.