Annual Report 2021: Stories of Impact
Founder and Principal
Street Smarts Design + Build
As an urban designer and founder of Street Smarts Design + Build, DuRon Netsell has spent years exploring how to make city spaces safer and more livable.
The history of urban planning hasn’t always made that easy. “Over the last 60-plus years or so, we’ve done almost everything we can in our cities to make traveling in the car as easily and as quickly as possible. That’s come at the cost of our communities, our neighborhoods, our buildings, our public spaces, our human health, and our connections to each other and the environment,” he said. Instead, he and his organization are focused on improving neighborhood public spaces for the communities who live there.
In Kansas City, Missouri, DuRon worked with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative to improve an especially dangerous intersection at the heart of the city. That involved narrowing lanes, extending curbs, and adding stop signs – and working with local artists to create colorful murals on the newly reclaimed sidewalk space. Bloomberg Associates also created an in-depth guide to help even more cities do the same.
“We made it much safer for motorists and pedestrians,” DuRon said. “We’ve also made it more vibrant, more beautiful, and we’ve combined art and safety into one project for everyone to enjoy.”
Learn more about the project here.
I was very thankful to Bloomberg Philanthropies for providing the opportunity to create a safer intersection in our city. What Bloomberg Philanthropies allowed us to do was to expand our thought process and say, ‘Okay, we can not only make this intersection safer, we can also make it beautiful and artistic.’