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Malcolm X Blvd. welcomes new recreational plaza for the summer

Better Block team and volunteers work to assemble the final stages of Malcom X Plaza.
Solomon Wilson
Better Block team and volunteers work to assemble the final stages of Malcolm X Plaza.

The Better Block Foundation has partnered with nonprofit Child Poverty Action Lab to bring a new recreational space in South Dallas for the summer. They hope it will unify the community, stimulate the economy and help reduce crime rates.

When you arrive to Malcolm X Plaza, at 4505 Malcom X Blvd., you are immediately greeted by crimson red pavilions that border the lot and the multi-colored gold and green painted concrete.

Torrie Peterson, a design architect for Better Block, said that by using surveys they are able to create the community’s vision.

“We figure out how we can translate the things that they want in a colorful and creative space,” she said.

Before construction on the plaza began just over a week ago, it was an empty lot. But imagining its potential is what Better Blocks Senior Project Manager Kristin Leiber says it’s all about.

“Our projects are quick by design, generally not over 120 days. The plan is to not overthink, not over meet and just go with the communities first gut feeling about a space and don’t talk ourselves out of it,” she said.

This is not Better Blocks first rodeo. The popular MLK Food Park is also is one of its projects.

“We’ve kind of gotten in a rhythm here in Dallas, and this is maybe our third or fourth project…"Leiber said. "Anytime we get to work in our backyard, this is our favorite place to work."

Child Poverty Action Lab finds ways to help reduce high crime rates through community-based spaces like this one.

Bryson Walker is a local musician known as “44 Glizzy.” He's helping to complete the project as a volunteer.

He says an effort like this in his community is nice to see.

“Right now, we need something for the kids to be able to play and do something positive," Walker said.

A product of southern Dallas, Walker see’s the need for more positive reinforcement for the youth.

“Not to say it’s a bad community — because South Dallas is a family-oriented community. But at the same time, it’s nice to have something where the kids can go to have positive role models and positive things to do,” he said.

Volunteers help with final touch ups and assembly of Malcom X Plaza for opening weekend.
Solomon Wilson
Solomon Wilson
Volunteers help with final touch ups and assembly of Malcolm X Plaza for opening weekend.

The location of the plaza sits right in between two business districts that reside on both ends of Malcolm X Blvd. Executive Director of Better Box Krista Nightengale anticipates the plaza will bring attention to these local establishments.

“Our hope is that people will come they’ll experience the plaza, but then they’ll go also experience the businesses on either side,” she said.

During opening weekend, live music, and activities like group workouts, pop-up markets, art competitions and more will be scheduled on Friday evening and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The plaza will remain open to the public through August 21.

Got a tip? Email Solomon Wilson at You can follow Solomon on Twitter @SolomonSeesIt.

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Solomon Wilson is KERA's Marjorie Welch Fitts Louis Fellow. He focuses on covering racial equity, women’s rights, socioeconomic disparities and other evolving issues of social justice in our community.