To understand what the organizers of the multicultural festival The Square at Nam Hai are trying to accomplish, consider where the event is taking place: a parking lot.
Parking lots — and the busy thoroughfares that fill them with vehicles — are everywhere you look in the commercial district of 21st Street and Garnett Road, where Nam Hai International Market has operated for nearly a decade.
It’s great for business, but not so much for creating a sense of community. And there’s a lot of community in East Tulsa, where people have come from all over the world to make a living.
So Saturday’s festival, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the parking lot directly east of the International Market, aims to bring the community together to chart a path forward while having a little fun along the way. .
“I think in the future I would love it if there was some kind of public square where you could have events like this every weekend and just have a space to celebrate different cultural events or a farmer’s market, things like that,” Luisa Krug said. , general manager of the Tulsa World District.
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In preparation for Saturday’s festival, the parking lot has been brightly painted, and a stage and seating have been set up for musicians, performers and audiences. Food trucks and local businesses will also be part of the party.
“It’s really cool to have an event that highlights so many different cultures and just allows people to come to the Global District and experience something like this,” Krug said.
The Tulsa Global District, a non-profit organization, was established in 2020 as part of the city Destination neighborhoods program. The impetus behind the program was to help communities in Tulsa reach their potential and become places not only Tulsans but visitors to the city would want to visit.
To become a destination district, a community must be recognized as part of the state and country. Main Street Program.
The Tulsa World District consists of four major quadrants in and around 21st and Garnett, whose boundaries are approximately Pancho Anayo Bakery to the east, US 169 to the west, 17th Street to the north, and Martin Regional Library to the south.
“(The Main Street effort) is a community revitalization program. Typically it would support a downtown area, but within a city it can support different areas of the city,” Krug said.
“We wanted to do some sort of event that showcased the fact that the Global District is a new organization. We want to support this region, but also get feedback from people about what they like about the region, which can to be improved, things like that.”
Saturday’s festival is a collaboration between the City of Tulsa, the Tulsa Global District and the Congress for New Urbanism. As part of its annual national conference, CNU undertakes legacy projects with underserved communities in or around the conference site to provide resources and strategic planning.
This year, the annual CNU conference is being held in Oklahoma City, and the Tulsa Global District is one of the communities selected to receive assistance. This includes the expertise of Court & Co.a Cincinnati-based urban growth company.
“We help people solve problems with place,” said Joe Nickol, an architect by training and director of design and development for Yard & Co.
Nickol said the challenge for the Tulsa World District was, “How do you create a main street organization in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a main street?”
One potential answer, Nickol said, is to establish a pedestrian and bike lane that not only connects businesses — many of which may be difficult to access or locate — but the residential neighborhoods around them.
“You have this whole residential fabric, neighborhoods completely disconnected from the economic strength of the community that they share,” Nickol said.
The loop is just an idea, Nichol pointed out, adding that one of the main reasons for having Saturday’s event is to get feedback from the community on what kind of improvements they would like to see.
Nam Le, International Market Manager of Nam Hai, struggled to come up with an answer when asked what improvements he would like to see for the neighborhood.
“That area was horrible, (but) they clean it up, the streets, stuff like that,” Le said. “It looks a lot better, there’s a lot more traffic now. …
“Everyone thinks east Tulsa is a bad neighborhood, but in reality it’s not. Everyone’s really friendly here. We’re starting to get more people to know each other.
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