Canby continues on downtown revitalization path
Canby held a second meeting to develop its downtown into a thriving place to be and be seen. The attendance was at least twice the number that met in July and all appeared anxious to get the city's downtown into a winning status.
This two-hour meeting began with a presentation from Michele Reeves, a consultant the city hired from Civilis Consulting.
She took the time to lead attendees toward a story framework and civic identity. The second hour placed everyone in one of four groups that were each asked to describe things, places and feelings.
She has tentatively scheduled the next meeting for late September in the evening.
"I'm still in the early stages," Reeves told the Herald.
The consultant uses a gathering stage to garner as much information as possible followed by a processing stage when she's ready.
"It's too early for processing," she said. "This is the time for interviews with people, business owners and to do a survey" [with residents too]. I'm open to all information and broad thinking. Those turn out to be great building blocks."
Processing comes later. Right now she's continuing to gather. One part is to build a framework, according to her presentation.
She is focusing on status; what status do residents strive to make downtown. Is it high or dynamic? Once that's been figured out, what is the story's framework? This balances four ideals; characterization, objectives, relationship and/or environment. These could be tied into physical stories or road stories, perhaps building stories, maybe window or sidewalk stories and what kind of story does it tell?
She then breaks down those four areas and looks at each.
For example, looking at objectives, what does it tell about a downtown? What is a district's motivation, what experience does it provide and what role does it play? Objectives also include different types of diversity from income, to cultural, to religious and even diversity of uses. Those lead to new beginnings such as ensuring the district allows a wide variety of uses through a zoning/code update. It also will encourage new and existing diversity in businesses. It will recruit educational use and develop more rental housing.
The presentation next discussed relationships looking at Spokane, Wash. which tied old and new Spokane together. It also discussed new approaches to relationships using an example of a quarterly lunch between the mayor and the Native American tribes. Spaces in the city are devoted to modern tribal music and art and the city leaders created opportunities to collaborate based on who the people are today.
The last area she breaks down is environment.
Here Reeves pictures a number of activities from religious to entertainment and explaining the need to focus on what we aren't. Industry is a part of the environment. What do we have in Canby; manufacturing, technology, digital media, information technology and health sciences, for examples. And then there's tourism, which is part of Canby, nearly every weekend in the summer.
Once the framework has been developed, it's important to market the place. Reeves suggests that story-based marketing applies to the place and its businesses.
At that point, she divided the attendees into four groups and provided each with a monitor to write and:
- Asked them first what words they would use to describe Canby,
- Second what words they'd use to describe Canby in the past,
- The words they would use to describe Canby in the future,
- What the people in Canby are passionate about,
- Is there another district that embodies what Canby aspires to be, a district providing the experience you want Canby to give and why,
- If downtown Canby was a person based on how it looks, acts and promotes itself today and what is it feeling right now,
- Who relates/doesn't relate to Canby and why,
- What are the most beloved businesses in downtown Canby and what are the leading ones,
- What words would you use to describe your region and what words to describe Oregon,
- How is Canby perceived in the region and how throughout the state.
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