Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Interesting businesses/markets/operations: ideas for revitalization export

Made by DWC cafe in Los Angeles. Image from Good Magazine, "A New Cafe on L.A.'s Skid Row Serves Crafts, Coffee, and Community."

-- Huntington Beach, California's "Surf City Nights" includes a night-time farmers market. I've suggested such for DC's Eastern Market for years. (There are plenty of such examples across the country.)

-- Brooklyn has an occasional Night Bazaar as well.

-- Local Roots Market & Cafe in Wooster, Ohio is a co-op but I think of it more as a conglomerator, selling foods produced locally, but not requiring each farmer to set up stands at a farmers market.

Actually, more of these kind of "local food hubs" are being created across the county, in places like Charlottesville, VA and Phoenix, Arizona, among others.

-- Venezuela's El Sistema classical music education program sponsors a variety of programs across the country and has produced talents active on the international scene. See "Venerated High Priest and Humble Servant of Music Education" from the New York Times.

Although DC's Washington National Opera is doing some local programs too, such as their "in your neighborhood" program which has delivered a number of concerts and related activities in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.

-- The Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver has the "Art Fitness Training" program, which teaches art appreciation. The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art has a similar program. See "Art fitness training helps with understanding contemporary art" from the Salt Lake City Deseret News.

-- Made by DWC (the Downtown Women's Center) is a gift shop and cafe on Skid Row in Los Angeles (and last year they had popup shops elsewhere in the city during the holidays). It's a job training program, a revenue producer for the nonprofit, and a place where DWC clients can sell goods that they produce. (Article from Good Magazine.)

From the Good Magazine article:

The DWC's social enterprise program was started five years ago to help the center's women develop business principles, a sense of social responsibility, and environmental awareness, says Annah Mason, social enterprise coordinator. Workshops taught by local artists and designers, like social design group Project H, help teach the women valuable skills and give them a creative outlet. In addition to creating the products, DWC women do the store's merchandising and inventory, thanks to training from Bloomingdale's Century City location. "They have work experience, they've just been disconnected," says Mason of the women at DWC. "It's amazing to see the light come back."

The store itself was designed by David Magid and takes advantage of the huge, loft-like windows and extra-high ceilings that flood the space with light. Attractively arranged among the creations by DWC's women are other items including housewares, stationary sets, craft books, and even antiques—all donations, says Mason. They're still looking for more donations, including products that will fit the boutique's DIY-market-meets-hip-thrift-store theme. In fact, she'll gladly take your grandmother's china that's gathering dust in the basement. "If you feel sentimental about something but don't need it anymore, we will turn it into something," she says.

This is the kind of shop I had in mind when I wrote about the hullaballoo over the Calvary Woman's Services debacle in Anacostia, where people fighting the homeless program looking to locate a facility there--over two arguments, one on overconcentration, the other on a nonretail use in a commercial district desperate for more retail uses--could have at least some of their concerns assuaged, if the homeless program would build retail activities into their program, just like the DWC in Los Angeles. (Although there are other examples.)

-- Similarly, there are a bunch of good examples of craft stores selling regionally produced items--something that I suggested should be part of the retail at the building constructed on the Hine site, adjacent to DC's Eastern Market in this blog entry, "Art & Invention Gallery as a retail prototype for a store in the Eastern Market area," including Heartwood in Abingdon, Virginia, the Illinois Artisans Shop, state run, in a government building in Chicago, the Mississippi Crafts Center Gallery in Ridgeland, Mississippi, the Art Studios at Spanish Village Art Center in San Diego, the Center for Maine Craft Gallery in West Gardiner, Maine, and the South Carolina Artisans Center near Charleston.

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