While we don’t have to “copy” other villages and towns for ideas of what to do in our own, it is prudent to see what works (and what doesn’t) for our neighbors AND find out the “why” and “how” in each case.
For instance, the Village of Lake Zurich will host its 3rd annual downtown block party, Lake Zurich Rock The Block, on Saturday Sept 12, 2015 from 5pm – Midnight.
Between a Chicago Tribune article and the event’s page on the Village of Crystal Lake website, we learn:
– The event will be held on Main Street: Streets are where the “life” of a municipality happens. We really need to look at how to handle future development in RLB to provide for multi-use(r) streets (’cause we ain’t got none!)
– The event will be held in downtown Lake Zurich: See the previous comment!
– To accommodate the event, Main Street will be closed: “What? Closing a major thoroughfare?” Yup, in places that “get it”, people are not only planned-for in the human-scale downtown and streetscape, sometimes they get priority use of the space. With our poor interconnectivity, we don’t dare block-off a road around here!
– This event is the Village of Lake Zurich’s second effort to sponsor a large scale downtown event, and planning for this event has been a “community effort”: COMMUNITY effort! When residents are seen by Village Hall as “co-owners” and not just taxpayers, then partnerships and division of labor among more people are much more likely to occur. OTOH, a Village Board working “solo” with limited experience and resources can quickly come to the point of “This is too much for us, let’s drop the idea”. [See: “Farmers Market”]
– The Rock The Block task force is headed by the Village “Innovation Director” Michael Duebner. “THEY HAVE AN INNOVATION DIRECTOR?!?!”
– The village is set to dance the night away with the community from 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday: After-dark events provide their own kind of energy, and we don’t do NEARLY enough of them.
– Eleven food trucks will be on site along with four local restaurants selling items including desserts and snacks: Food trucks help make “Instant Place”! A greater variety of food offerings draw more people. Local eateries still draw their loyal customers, and residents get a taste of something new, often to the point of helping get food trucks back for regular visits!
– Multi-tasking…The event highlights the need for more donations to restock the local community food pantry. Rock the Block also brings together the community to help them rediscover the appeal of downtown restaurants and boutiques: The Village applies time, effort, and resources to HELP the local business community beyond just throwing an application for a business license their way. It also shows the spirit of “greater good” in helping provide for those who are temporarily in need.
– A beer tent will also be set up, and it will sell wine and Mike’s Hard Lemonade products, four types of beer and local craft beer: Full of alcohol, wandering the streets of downtown… and no rioting? Don’t be so scared of adult beverages at events, Trustees.
… and their closing statement:
“The unique part about Rock the Block is you’re supporting the local food pantry with an adult beverage in your hand while conversing with your friends and neighbors and enjoying a midsummer late evening.
It’s an event that’s really designed for the community to come together and rediscover the downtown.”
Yep, we could probably learn a useful concept or two by observing how our neighbors do things…