A local nonprofit organization along with local community groups joined forces to put on an event that was fun and friendly for the entire community while promoting safety for pedestrians and bike riders in an area of the city that has been increasing in population since 2021.
The second annual Open Streets Festival was held on Buchanan Street in the North Nashville neighborhood where it was free and open to the public and closed off to vehicles stretching from D.B. Todd, Jr. Blvd. to Rosa L. Parks Blvd. Hosted by Walk Bike Nashville, Strategize 619 and Simone Boyd, Open Streets Nashville had over 30 artists, businesses, community organizations and individuals taking part in the neighborhood festival. The street lineup included Double Dutch Workshops by Music City Double Dutch, a seven-mile bike ride by Music City Dope Pedalers, and an inflatable soccer field by Nashville Soccer Club. The festival also featured artwork displays ranging from clay molding workshops by Buchanan Arts to Rooted in Love art installation to a Lino Print Workshop by Freedom Arts.
Open Streets Nashville also included music in its festival lineup with a performance from the Fisk University Marching Band to open the festival along with a performance from the Gospel Music group Men on a Mission. The festival also had music performances from DJ Cashville and DJ R. Luke. Brenda Perez, community engagement manager for Walk Bike Nashville, said that Open Streets was a way to create more pedestrian infrastructure where people can walk and bike in the neighborhood. She also said the message she wanted people to take away from the festival is that people can go to their city and elected leaders and ask leaders to support programs like Open Streets.
“Open Streets are an invitation to everybody with all different kinds of skillsets,” said Perez. “If you were going to ride a bike or walk, or use a wheelchair—it’s open for you to come out.”
Open Streets, according to a press release, was a global movement that started in the 1970s in Bogota, Columbia. In Bogota, there were over 60 miles of city streets that were closed every Sunday to vehicle traffic to allow bicyclists and pedestrians to use the main roads. Perez said the response to the Open Streets Festival Nashville was very positive while Simone Boyd, co-host of Open Streets, said the festival served as a way of people coming together to reconnect with each other.
“As a community, we need a moment to celebrate, remember, and reconnect,” said Boyd. Open Streets is a way to celebrate the art, people, and culture of North Nashville and bring resources to our neighborhood to help shift the negative narrative about our community.”
The Open Streets Festival of Nashville was made possible with support from organizations such as the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville.