Posted by Rebecca Miller
An event was recently posted on Facebook by one of my dear friends reading “Meet at the mall. 7:00pm.” I became crazy excited: “I’ll meet you there!” And then, a few seconds later, “Wait, not the Fulton Mall, huh?” Rejected. Dejected. Facebook fail.
I’ve become one of those people. Those Downtowners. Those optimistic, naive, ridiculous people with the notion that Downtown Fresno should actually still be the core of the city. (Note to all of you Fresno Bee commenters: Riverpark is NOT the new Downtown. Also, don’t judge me for reading the Bee comments. It gets me riled up in the morning and ready to change the world.)
Something amazing happened this week. I sat in a room full of those people. For the first time since I moved to Fresno, I was surrounded 100% by believers. And movers. And changers. Yes. It was the meet and greet for the Downtown Fresno Academy, a year-long immersion class put on by Fresno’s Leading Young Professionals (FLYP). And I certainly did meet and greet. People of all professions and backgrounds. Many from Fresno, many not so much. Different interests, different affiliations, different cultures, but one main purpose: to improve the city. And a rock-solid belief that Downtown Fresno has a real chance at change.
I sat back and listened to the conversations going on around me. For once, I wasn’t convincing anyone. For once, I didn’t have to strategically think about how I was going to respond to intense negativity. For once, the people around me didn’t think I was certifiably insane. One pair went on and on about the suckiness of urban sprawl and how it ruins city services and cannibalizes our whole economic base (stop eating up the farms with cookie-cutter houses!). Another group chatted about the advent of CartHop and how one small change has brought a hint of identity to Downtown. There was mention of the world-changing (okay, just Fresno changing) decision to be made by City Council this year about the Fulton Mall. And after that, I didn’t hear much. Because it was so unbelievably loud. Because everyone was so unbelievably excited. Because everyone, unbelievably, believed.
I know that the majority of the people who read this blog are probably those people. (Yay, you!) But I hope that there are a few Bee commenters out there, shaking their heads at my ridiculous millennial style. And to you, lovely doubters, I propose this: do one thing to learn about your downtown. Go to an event on the Fulton Mall. Participate in Fresno Citizens Academy. Eat at CartHop. Talk to some folks at Fresno Brewing Company. Read up on the history of our awesome skyscrapers. Join next year’s Downtown Academy. Subscribe to the DFP’s blog so you can read all of my future posts and I won’t be kicked off the guest blogging list for lack of readership. Go to a show. Go to the library. I hear it’s grape season at the Market on Kern. Seriously – what do you have to lose?