OPEN STREETS festival gets a NOD

Nick O'Brien 102716

B.C. Kowalski/City Pages

Nick O’Brien 102716

McDevco’s Nick O’Brien, leading Wausau’s first crowd-funding event, Wausau SOUP, which helped raise money for an Open Streets event in Wausau next spring.

A project that would close Third Street to traffic on a designated Sunday next year is the winner of the first Wausau SOUP event last week to support community enhancing projects.

The Open Streets project was pitched by Andrew Lynch, a transportation planner for Marathon County. A majority of the 138 event attendees chose the project over a riverfront stage presented by Nick Bretl and a community composting project presented by Samantha Schroeder. 

Wausau SOUP, the first of what is expected to become a quarterly event, is a project from Nick O’Brien, community engagement specialist for McDevco (Marathon County Economic Development Corp.). SOUP events are gaining popularity nationwide including many Wisconsin cities. Participants buy a bowl of soup for $5 and listen to pitches for community projects. Participants then enjoy a bowl of soup and vote for one of the pitches presented.

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The event raised $780 for the Open Streets project, which is expected to cost organizers about $6,000. The event will likely be held in May or June, and could be paired with a fan fest the Wisconsin Woodchucks hold at the start of the 2017 season.

Open Streets events originated in Bogota, Columbia, in the 1970s and have evolved into community celebrations that include people moving in any way that is non-motorized: walking, jogging, rollerblading, skateboarding and biking, for example. Usually, the events include classes, food trucks, booths and activities for kids and adults of all ages. Minneapolis holds regular Open Streets events, and Green Bay has one scheduled for July.