Tomato Arts Festival is one of the great festivals typical of Nashville. It celebrates the unique and arty wackyness that is a feature of East Nashville’s DNA. The Tomato Fest takes back the streets of Five Points from its busy day-to-day traffic, transforming them into a jubilant celebration of diversity and unity.
Last year at the Tomato Festival, a group of Tactical URBanism Organizers (aka TURBO Nashville) vowed to reclaim public space in a desolate asphalt traffic triangle at the intersection of Gallatin Pike and 11th Avenue in East Nashville. The goal was to convert dangerous and unpleasant pedestrian space into an enjoyable, safe place that promotes walks to Five Points.
The impetus behind creating this guarded, more pleasurable area during Tomato Fest was the greater volume of people walking to the festival. This installation would draw attention to the area and begin conversation about permanent change to this egregious pedestrian space.
Action! Over one hundred comments were collected during the festival, ideas for improving the triangle. Revelers found delight in temporary improvements to the once unenjoyable traffic triangle. The success reverberated through neighborhood groups; new ideas and plans for the space were generated. The conversation on the triangle must keep moving forward! This could become a great, safe, multi-modal gathering place for East Nashville.
This year, the organizers of The Tomato Arts Festival wanted TURBO to get more involved with spaces within the fest. TURBO was asked to commandeer the gas station that sits at the northeast corner of Five Points. This is the center of the festival. TURBO was delighted to comply, creating a pop-up park focused on engaging the community in tactical urbanism.
The idea this year was to show how all people can make a change in their neighborhood. Tactical urbanist methods were on display. “Instant” benches were constructed to show how easily public gathering spaces can be created. A community paint-by-number mural was designed by artist Camilla Spadafino where festival-goers were invited to paint a Tomato Fest Mural. A pop-up skate park was created to promote physical activity, courtesy of Miken Development. Plenty of shipping pallet furniture was installed for eating areas near the food trucks. Below, another successful installation during the Tomato Festival!
TURBO’s goal is to promote mobility, safety, and beauty in the public realm. Their ideas are not meant to be permanent solutions but starting blocks for conversation among advocates, communities, planners and government. TURBO wants you to get involved!