Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

Great River Arts Festival

Awardee: Vancouver's Downtown Association and Local Boy Tatau

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2023

City: Vancouver

The Community Partnership Award is an annual award that recognizes a Main Street program and partners who have demonstrated the highest and best degree of cooperation to benefit downtown revitalization efforts. This year, that award honored the collaboration between Vancouver’s Downtown Association (VDA) and local tattoo business Local Boy Tatau to produce the first-ever Great River Arts Festival in the fall of 2022.

The Great River Arts Festival aimed to foster a sense of unity and pride in the city’s cultural heritage by creating multicultural murals throughout downtown Vancouver. Local Boy Tatau engaged a diverse group of local and world-renowned artists, while the VDA garnered support from downtown property owners. Together, they carefully matched each artist with a specific wall space downtown, taking into account the artist’s style and the building’s unique features. They also rallied business and resident support to help cover projects costs and artist fees. Across seven weeks, more than 20 murals were painted across downtown Vancouver.

A project a widespread and meaningful as this one could not have occurred without the impressive partner model—including the VDA, Local Boy Tatau, property owners, business owners, and residents—that came together to produce the Great River Arts Festival.

Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

Rotary Marketplace

Awardee: Downtown Association of Yakima, Yakima Rotary Clubs, and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2022

City: Yakima

The Downtown Yakima Farmers Market, which is managed by the Downtown Association of Yakima (or “DAY”), has been growing and becoming a major fixture in the downtown – due greatly from a strong team effort led by market manager, Yvette Lippert – but it is held on a street with very little shade, and each week is a struggle with closing down the street, the scarcity of electricity and water, and the weather conditions. Then-Rotary President and longtime downtown advocate, John Baule, wanted the annual Rotary Project to focus on downtown. After conferring with DAY Executive Director, Andrew Holt, the decision was made to pursue a permanent home for the market with a meaningful structure that provided necessary resources and a sense of place.

The three local Rotary clubs approved the project, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital approved leasing the property to DAY for $10 per year and allowing construction of the pavilion, and DAY agreed to manage and maintain the space once it was built. Many individual givers and local businesses also stepped up to support the pavilion. The total cost of the project is in the neighborhood of $1.4 million. John Baule was the leading fundraiser and the project manager who made this vision a reality.

Construction is anticipated to wrap up before the start of 2023’s market. When completed, a main pavilion comprised of brick and wood will face the street and right behind it will be a secondary pavilion with a tinted translucent covering. The two structures will provide 300 feet of shade with 80 individual stalls for vendors, equipped with electricity and water.

Yakima is an agriculturally based community with an abundance of small, independent family farms. Having a strong, vibrant farmers market is important to the community in assisting its economy and also furthering its identity. The pavilion will allow micro businesses a better chance to grow. Previously, a vendor might not attend because they could not provide their own power or lack of access to water, or they might not even have a tent. The pavilion will eliminate all of those obstacles, while also giving even more credibility to the ever-growing market as a vibrant weekly event as well as an economic driver. An additional benefit is that the pavilion will act as a public space for other community events.

A service club, a major employer, and the Main Street organization came together, each playing their necessary role, to fulfill a vision which makes the Downtown Yakima Farmers Market a fantastic example of community partnership.

Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

Camas & Journey

Awardee: Ellen Scott of Journey Community Church, and Caroline Mercury, Dawn White, and Carrie Schulstad of Downtown Camas Association

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2016

City: Camas

When the Downtown Camas Association learned in 2009 that a key property was to be converted to a church, they were, at first, apprehensive. Journey Community Church’s location in downtown Camas is a marked exception to the logic that churches don’t belong downtown, due in large part to the incredible partnership Journey and the DCA have forged over the last six years.

The building Journey purchased was once the JC Penney department store. The building had fallen into disrepair and required a great deal of investment by the time Journey hired a local architect to bring the building back to life. Valuing the history of the building, great efforts were made to preserve the original brick and wooden beams, and repurpose other historic materials. The multimillion dollar renovation was completed in late 2009 with a great deal of volunteer labor from congregation members invested in the new space.

DCA’s partnership with Journey makes year-round, free community events feasible in downtown Camas by providing a large venue during poor weather, volunteers to help run promotions, and activities for children. Events like Girls’ Night Out, Camas Car Show, Plant & Garden Fair, and even DCA’s Annual Awards Dinner rely on the unique community space. At the annual Spring Clean-Up and Planting Day, Journey provides not only lunch for 50-75 volunteers, but also recruits congregation members and their children to serve their community.

In addition to events, Journey has impacted commerce and activity downtown. Using their public art fee required with all downtown improvements at their level, Journey worked with DCA to provide 8 locally made artful bike racks through downtown. When the church purchased the building next door, which had two vacant storefronts, they turned down multiple applicants as they waited for tenants that would add to a vibrant business mix downtown, knowing that DCA’s recruitment goals focused on restaurants and retail. Today, these storefronts house two successful businesses – a bakery and a dance studio – that bring people downtown at all hours of the day.

Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

Partnership for Historic Chelan

Awardee: Linda Van Lunsen, Erin Peterson, and Erin McCardle from the Historic Downtown Chelan Association

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2018

City: Chelan

Recognizing their shared goals around Chelan’s heritage and historic treasures, the Historic Downtown Chelan Association and the Lake Chelan Historical Society forged a partnership in 2016.

First, the two organizations worked together to institute Chelan’s first historic plaque program. In its initial stages, the Downtown Association’s Design Committee selected four historically significant downtown structures, all of which are over 100 years old and have maintained their historic integrity: Campbell’s Resort, Saint Andrews Episcopal Church, Woodin Avenue Bridge, and Ruby Theatre. The Historical Society Manager, Ron McGaughey, served as an advisor on the program and coordinated Society volunteers to find historic photographs of the properties. The two organizations jointly designed and presented the plaques at a media-covered event in 2017.

The historic wrap program draws attention to historic aspects of the town by covering a modern necessity with historic images. The project, another collaboration between the two organizations, is located at a key intersection downtown. Images were selected for their historic significance, cultural relevance, and reflection of life in downtown Chelan during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Each side of the wrap takes a different look at Chelan’s history, with themes including wood-framed buildings, legacy businesses, homesteaders, and life in a frontier town.

The Downtown Association and the Historical Society plan to continue both the historic plaque and wrap programs in the future, and have also begun developing a walking tour to provide additional opportunities for the public to learn about Chelan’s history and built environment.

This partnership has elevated the preservation ethic in Chelan through community pride and education, and has resulted in increased interest among downtown building owners. These projects illustrate the importance of partners coalescing around shared goals.

Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

Tree Top Park

Awardee: Whitney Stohr, Barb Petra, and Rachael Glaspie

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2017

City: Selah

Downtown Selah suffers from a lack of green space, beautification elements, and public gathering areas. The Selah Downtown Association’s Design Committee wanted to create a project that would show the community the value of these elements, and in May 2016, they launched Tree Top Park, a traveling, pop-up parklet.

With financial support from Tree Top, Inc., an apple juice processing plant, and material donations from King’s Row restaurant, Russell Landscaping, and Spinner Wood Products, the SDA created its moveable parklet, complete with artificial grass, picnic tables, chairs, umbrellas, and potted birch trees planted in small apple bins. The park was assembled, enjoyed, dismantled, moved, and reassembled 10 times during the course of the project’s 5 month stretch.

The SDA programmed at least one activity for each location and encouraged the host business and other community organizations to view the parklet as a public space and use it as they would any other park. They were encouraged to host events at the parklet or use it as an outdoor dining area.

Initially, the SDA simply wanted to show the community different ways that beautification could be integrated into the streetscape. However, they soon realized that they would first have to take a step back and prove to the community that there was even value in doing so. With community education and involvement as the new primary goal of the parklet, the SDA soon found that they were in fact changing public opinion about the value of green space.

As a newer Main Street Community, Tree Top Park was something of a coming out party for the SDA. It allowed them to galvanize a strong volunteer base, test their public communication skills, and develop important community partnerships with sponsors, the city, and the local business community.

After the parklet left their storefront, business owners often invested in their own outdoor furniture and plants, and several have plans to develop larger, permanent green spaces. Spurred by the positive feedback and new partnerships, the SDA will install three semi-permanent parklets in 2017.

Tree Top Park was a seemingly modest installation that yielded significant results, in large part because the SDA embraced the spirit of community engagement and education.

Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

Langley Partnerships

Awardee: Langley Main Street Association

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2015

City: Langley

The Langley Main Street Association (LMSA) and the City of Langley have worked together on a variety of projects, often gaining support from other community partners as well as the strong volunteer base in the Langley community. Such projects that came to fruition in 2014 include the Langley Whale Center, a downtown banner project, and a complete overhaul of Second Street that included bump out garden beds with an accompanying electric watering cart.

The Langley Whale Center began as a vacant and overgrown historic building downtown until LMSA and the City teamed with the Orca Network, the Port of South Whidbey, Mystic Sea Charters, and over twenty volunteers to create a whale information center with a strong tourism draw of over 6,000 visitors its first year. The center also provides office space to LMSA and has improved perception on economic development in Langley.

Economic vitality in Langley was also enhanced in 2014 by way of the banner project implemented through the LMSA Promotion Committee, the Langley Chamber, the City of Langley, and many non-profit and for-profit community organizations. The project oversaw the installation of 12 banner poles throughout town, and organizations provide promotional banners for events. The community attributes combined sales tax and hotel/motel tax revenue increases of over $30,000 in large part to the banner project.

Expanding on a previous edible garden project between the City and LMSA, the curb bump out gardens completed the Second Street renovation and spared the City $9,000 in potential landscaping costs through the use of volunteers and wholesale plants. An electric cart used to take visitors around town now also pulls a water tank to make upkeep manageable and sustainable.

Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

Waterfront Farmers Market

Awardee: City of Gig Harbor, Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance, and numerous volunteers!

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2020

City: Gig Harbor

In 2015 a partnership was struck between the City of Gig Harbor and the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance to create a Waterfront Farmers Market. It had a meaningful but modest goal to connect people to fresh produce, but within the last five years has developed into a hub for everyone from farmers and entrepreneurs to nonprofits and musicians. One of the market’s greatest accomplishments is also its greatest asset – 250 volunteers who make the market a reality on Thursdays throughout the summer.

For five seasons running, the Waterfront Farmers Market has had a dedicated Market Manager, Heidi Gerling, responsible for the development of that strong volunteer network which has proven key to its success. Held in Skansie Brothers Park right along the water, the park provides a beautiful space for market-goers – but not an easy spot for farmers and vendors to unload. Cue the volunteers!

Vendors are greeted curbside every week by a group of volunteers, ready to help unload the vendor’s goods and displays and ensure each vendor has all the set-up assistance they require. When unloading is complete, the vendor drives their car to an off-site parking location where a volunteer-run shuttle service meets them to return them to the market site. The reverse service is provided at the end of the market. The partnership is a win-win – vendors love having the help, and the volunteer group of the week gets a booth to showcase their community involvement. In 2019, this included the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor, Harbor History Museum, Millville Pizza, Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Club, Gig Harbor Mid-Day Rotary, and the Gig Harbor Dragon Boat Team — to name a few.

Thanks to the positive partnerships between the Alliance, the City, Pierce Transit’s Summer Trolley, farmers, vendors, and volunteers, the Waterfront Farmers Market has grown into a vibrant weekly event with live entertainment, children’s activities, cooking demos, local history and more.

These partnerships have proven indispensable as the Alliance staff, volunteers, and vendors have made necessary accommodations to open the market amidst public health concerns this summer. The market continues to prove its value as an essential economic driver and community space in Gig Harbor.

Excellence on Main Award

[click image to view larger]

Downtown Planter Partnership

Awardee: Ellensburg Downtown Association & Elmview

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2019

City: Ellensburg

The plants in downtown Ellensburg were dying. The 65 planter boxes, planted annually and maintained by the Ellensburg Downtown Association and the City of Ellensburg, weren’t looking so hot… or rather, were looking overly hot, amidst 100-degree summer days in Central Washington. The City was no longer able to water the planters at the frequency needed due to staffing and budget limitations. And the community was taking notice.

Realizing an additional partner would be the only solution to the issue, the EDA’s Design Committee approached Elmview, a local non-profit that connects adults with disabilities to job opportunities. With interest, mission alignment, and both parties at the table to work out the details, the EDA and Elmview determined the type of equipment and the watering schedule necessary to adequately maintain the planters.

With support from the City, a watering truck was purchased, and the EDA was able to enter into a contract with Elmview that created paid positions for the daily watering shifts. Elmview’s involvement made an immediate impact downtown, with the planters well cared for and vibrant throughout the season. The partnership between the City, the EDA, and Elmview is slated to continue in 2019 and beyond due to the success of the program for all parties.

While the healthy planters are the obvious outcome, the impact of this partnership runs much deeper. Not only did the partnership allow the City and the EDA to solve a recurring problem, but it also allowed Elmview to create more meaningful, community-centered jobs for their clients. This is the power of Main Street partnerships – coming together over complimentary goals and finding that quality of life is something that grows exponentially when nurtured.