The Dirty Work of Downtown Revitalization

Posted by Kim Schoelen

Before you read this take a gander at the gorgeous wisteria down here at the south end of the mall. Ahhh, so beautiful you can almost smell it through the internet, I bet.

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Well, that’s not what this blog is about.

I am covered head to toe in dirt and rat feces.  I just spent the last hour alone in a warehouse doing more physically taxing labor than I have since I gave up my roller derby 3x a week habit.  In a cruel twist of fate, I have “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” running through my brain on loop.

And I’m totally cool with it.

Well, maybe not so much the rat feces thing, but I can deal- after all, it’s a step toward downtown revitalization.

How so?  Was I just inside one of our beautiful buildings swinging a hammer and fixing it up?  Nope.  Was I single-handedly restoring facades and storefronts?  Nah.  It was nothing so grand.  But that’s exactly what a lot of us think of when we hear about downtown revitalization- the big stuff, the grand stuff.  The truth is, I was in our storage facility moving Christmas decorations from one bin to another, consolidating the mostly empty bins with other bins and then breaking down the boxes we didn’t need anymore.

During the holiday season we are able to give our businesses in the district decorations to work with to make their shop windows merry and bright, and after this Christmas there were plenty of half full containers taking up space.  So I organized, shifted things around around and made it much more accessible so that when November rolls around this year we’ll have a much simpler task at hand with distributing decorations. Sometimes I’d drop a lid or base to the storage containers and oh boy, it was a mushroom cloud of dust everywhere, but it was worth it.

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What I just did may seem oddly unseasonable- not to mention really small scale, but downtown revitalization is like that.  It won’t happen overnight, but a bunch of tiny steps will eventually lead up to something big and awesome.  It’s going out daily and making sure visitors to Downtown Fresno have a pleasant experience.  It’s picking up the litter.  It’s making connections with the public that matter.  It’s building relationships with business owners so they know they don’t have to go it alone.  It’s committing to shop and dine downtown regularly.  Sometimes it’s seeing a building completely restored and opened to the public for the first time in years- and those are truly times for celebration.  But it’s the little and yes, sometimes dirty, jobs that all culminate in the grand finale- a downtown reborn!

pantsThese jeans were a dark indigo before they got coated with dust!  My glitter TOMS lost all of their sparkle, this was a seriously dusty endeavor!

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2 Comments

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  1. it’s always the baby steps that make something grand, no?

  2. fresnofoodchick March 26, 2013 — 12:36 am

    those of us who love downtown…thank you!

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