Main Street Matters!
By Titus Tomlinson
There I was – opening day at this year’s Main Street Now Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was surrounded by excited, spunky and passionate change agents representing Main Street Programs from across the country. At that moment it became very apparent that I am one of a very large group of individuals who see the importance of Main Street and the role it plays in creating healthy communities that we all can enjoy, take pride in, and embrace as our own. As I spoke with countless volunteers, coordinators and state coordinators one thing became very clear – Main Street is and always will be the heart of our communities, both rural and urban alike. As humans we all know that a healthy heart makes for a healthy body and the same goes for Main Street; a healthy Main Street makes for a healthy community.
So what can you do to help create a healthy heart in your community? The good news is that a world of resources, structure and support is available to help create a healthy heart! For well over 35 years the National Main Street Center has been working with communities across the Country to revitalize their downtowns and commercial districts. And they do so using a structured “Main Street Approach” – an approach that has “has earned Main Street the reputation as one of the most powerful economic revitalization tools in the nation.”
One of my favorite components is the fact that this approach not only takes into account the local economy, its drivers and the regional context, but that it also realizes the importance of the stories each community has to share. It’s those stories that help create “sense of place” in all Main Street Communities. And when it comes to what sets each and every community apart, preserving historic building stock is one of the first things that comes to mind.
By embracing the history of our communities we often find those assets that set us apart from others. Whether we are talking about the Liberty Theater in Astoria or I.C. Nickelsen’s / Klindt’s Booksellers building in The Dalles – these are buildings that tell a story and create that sense of place I am speaking about. So what is it about your community that sets it apart and tells that story? Find it, embrace it and make it yours because sometimes the past really does play into the present!
Titus Tomlinson received the Elisabeth Walton Potter Oregon Heritage Preservation Scholarship to attend the 2016 Main Street Now Conference in Milwaukee, WI. For more information about this scholarship visit here.