Vernon Avenue Pocket Park to Open in Phoenix This Fall
Janessa Hilliard Future site of the Vernon Avenue Pocket Park, just east of Central Avenue in Midtown.
Editor's note: This post has been modified from its original version to reflect that the Vernon Avenue Pocket Park will open in fall of 2013, instead of March 2014.
Like many Phoenicians, Christiaan Blok and Laryn Callaway-Blok, the husband-and-wife team behind Shine Coffee, grew tired of seeing the dirt lot near their business remain a dirt lot, day after day. Unlike your average Phoenicians, the two decided to do something about it.
Enter the Vernon Avenue Pocket Park project, an independent design and concept for the historic Willo neighborhood that quickly gained momentum with the support of the City of Phoenix, Local First Arizona, and Valley residents through social media and the website Kickstarter.
Kickstarter encourages anyone with a viable idea to post projects and solicit donations from independent sponsors. Typically, contributions are coupled with incentives. In the case of the pocket park, those who pledged $500 or more (13 backers) will receive an invitation to the park's grand opening party, get their name on the website, and have a tree named after them, while those who gave $25 or more (104 backers) will receive an invitation and coffee for two, courtesy of Shine.
By creating a Kickstarter page to fund the project, Callaway-Blok, intentionally or not, also raised awareness of the ever-present dirt-lot problem throughout Phoenix.
As of their Sunday, September 29, deadline, and with the help of 312 unique backers via the crowd funding website, the project raised $23,160 -- over a thousand dollars more than the original goal of $22,000.
Currently, the dirt lot sits between buildings beside Shine's walk-up coffee bar and its new "living room" area featuring indoor seating at 10 West Vernon Avenue. Creating a pocket park, a scaled-down version of the Tuileries Garden in Paris, will not only bridge the two areas for coffee connoisseurs but also offer a quaint, outdoor destination for residents and visitors of the museum district.