Excellence on Main Award

Meet Me Downtown

Awardee: Linda Haglund and Steph Grubich

Award: Outstanding Special Project

Year: 2016

City: Wenatchee

When the Wenatchee Downtown Association learned that the City was planning a major infrastructure improvement project for summer 2014, they knew they would have to pull resources together to support the downtown business community during the inevitable disruption. Out of this need came the concept of a campaign that would put a face to the locally-owned businesses that populate downtown Wenatchee.

The Meet Me Downtown campaign ran for 24 months, from January 2014 thru December 2015. Each month, a different downtown business owner was spotlighted with an ad printed in a local publication and shared online. The ads included a picture of the business owner(s), a brief profile that included aspirations for investing in downtown Wenatchee, and an invitation to visit the business. The business owners were given 50 souvenir Meet Me Downtown shopping bags to give away during the month they were featured by the campaign.

The Meet Me Downtown campaign helped people connect with businesses in a new way and created a greater sense of place. By telling the stories of the business owners themselves –  people like Peggy Nichols, Kyle Hendrickson, and Pete and Sarah Lolos – the Meet Me Downtown campaign effectively created a personal connection and further reason for community members to support a vibrant local economy by choosing to shop at local downtown businesses.

Excellence on Main Award

Port Townsend 30th Anniversary

Awardee: Mari Mullen and Amy Smith Howard

Award: Outstanding Special Project

Year: 2016

City: Port Townsend

The Port Townsend Main Street Program was founded in 1985 as one of the first five pilot Main Street programs in Washington State. With thirty years and countless economic, design, and promotional successes under their belt, the Main Street Program board rolled out multiple projects and celebrations in 2015.

From a declaration from city council proclaiming August 30th “Main Street Day” to gathering hundreds of citizens in front of an historic building downtown to take a “family portrait”, it was a very visible and memorable year for the program.

In 2015, the Main Street Program coordinated 26 successful events, sold out their Insiders’ Building Tours, launched a “Look Here First” campaign, attracted new sponsors, collaborated with many partners, and accomplished many other organizational goals.

The board of directors and other volunteers stepped up tremendously to put the spotlight on the program in 2015. Thirty volunteers came together to host “Celebrate Main Street”, a cornerstone anniversary event that included the Family Portrait Town Photo and an “al fresco” picnic dinner on Taylor Street. The photo included 752 people, seven dogs, and a seagull. The dinner was attended by over 200 guests, some of whom had been involved with the program since its inception, and others – such as PTMSP’s first Executive Director, David Kahley – who made a special trip back to Port Townsend to celebrate the program’s anniversary.

For a program with a thirty year track record of significant contributions to the community, the Port Townsend Main Street Program’s year of impact and celebration set the bar high for creativity and volunteer commitment. Congratulations and cheers to the next thirty years!

Excellence on Main Award

Morning Jam

Awardee: Alice Clark, Marissa McGrath, and Morgan Henry

Award: Outstanding Special Project

Year: 2017

City: Bellingham

Many makers and creators call Bellingham home, yet the community was largely unaware of this and the creators themselves seemed to lack support and a network. The Downtown Bellingham Partnership knew that these individuals and their initiatives are essential to the downtown’s vitality, so they launched a creative lecture series called Morning Jam in June 2015.

The speaking series highlights the creative, entrepreneurial energy of downtown Bellingham, with a different individual featured each month. The speakers  represent a huge range of passions — animation, documentary film making, projection mapping, sustainable farming, math theory, mural creating, seaweed foraging, wine making, desired light design, small business bootstrapping, metal working, portraiture, and elevated mobile experiences…just to name a few.

Morgan Henry, Downtown Bellingham Programming and Events Coordinator, personally scouts speakers and interacts with various media platforms including local community radio station and a Sound Cloud account which holds monthly recorded content for a growing body of online listeners.

Morning Jam takes place on the second Wednesday of every month. Attendees arrive at the Pickford Film Center, pour themselves a cup of Block Dog Coffee, and prep their breakfast at the toast bar using refurbished toasters from Bellingham’s Toaster Museum.

Local blogger and regular attendee Tammy Thiele says that Morning Jam has changed her relationships with the town she has lived in for 20 years. She says, “My curiosity for Bellingham and my neighbors has grown and I find myself felling much more connected to my community and my place in it.”

We are all thirsty to connect with the people around us and the places we call home, and Morning Jam provides a platform that is building invaluable social capital in Bellingham’s downtown.