Rock the Hood: ZACC puts the ART in Block pARTy


I love block parties. There’s something about sipping a beer and eating food from a truck in the middle of a normally busy street that just screams freedom. I’ve been to a number of them in my life and in very different places, but nothing compares to a true Missoula block party. Which is why I’ll be on North First Street West this Saturday July 19th and you should be too.

Rock the Hood is a celebration of the Northside and Westside neighborhoods of Missoula. From 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. North First Street West (the block that houses the Kettlehouse, the ZACC, and the Stensrud Playhouse) will be shut down to cars and open to everyone.

arm wrestling

Much like your average block party great local food and beer will be available as several local bands “rock” the “hood”. What makes this party special is that your average block party would stop there. Food, music, booze – that’s all most people care to put together. Not the Northside and Westside, and certainly not the Zootown Arts Community Center.

Because this nieghborhood is quickly becoming a cultural district in Missoula, it only makes sense that the party is packed with art. The ZACC will be hosting a number of adult and kid friendly art workshops, a collaborative community mural, screen printing, face painting, sidewalk chalk – the list goes on. The Clay Studio of Missoula – a Westside institution – will be on hand to teach you how to use a potter’s wheel, while Cutbank Literary Magazine will host creative writing activities.

muralAs if the abundance of art weren’t enough, the block party also boasts a heavy lineup of local bands, improv from the newly formed Stensrud Playhouse, the Garden City Lady Arm Wrestlers, and an impromptu water park.

On Saturday you and I (you’re going right?) will be on the Northside along with about a thousand other Missoulians making art, drinking a beer or two, and making the most of our brief summer. While we’re there you’ll see a lot of freshly screen printed shirts claiming Northside/Westside pride. You may wonder why you should have pride in the neighborhood (especially if you don’t live there).

Missoula can be proud of the Northside and Westside neighborhood because of what this creative community is accomplishing. In a time when all across the country neighborhoods are losing their identities, their local business and their residents to gentrification, the Northside and Westside of Missoula are holding strong.

musicianThrough the common bond of art this neighborhood is – as the North Missoula Community Development Corp. puts it – experiencing “a renewed sense of vitality and community caring”. It’s no coincidence that the “renewed sense of vitality” came hand in hand with the founding of the Clay Studio of Missoula, the Zootown Arts Community Center, and the Missoula Outdoor Cinema. Why be proud? Because in this town when times get tough we don’t build condos, we build communities.

Want to know more about the neighborhood and the organizations working to keep it strong? Find out how the arts are helping to strengthen this community at the Missoula Cultural Council’s blog.

Matt Anglen HeadshotMatt Anglen is a prodigal Missoulian who has returned to the valley after a brief stint as a starving artist in the Windy City. He is currently the Program Director for the Missoula Cultural Council and lives with his wife and son at the base of Mount Jumbo.