Centralia Block Parties
Awardee: Centralia Downtown Association
Award: Organizational Excellence
Realizing that their quarterly meetings were stale and that they needed a more appealing event in order to draw more people in – which was their ultimate goal – the Centralia Downtown Association (CDA) flipped their traditional meetings inside out and created a Block Party series that includes food, entertainment, and information about the CDA and downtown. They broke downtown into quadrants – hosting one event in each quadrant throughout the year – and designated Block Captains in charge of rallying energy and participation around their section’s hosted event. Each of the four events had a $200 budget to help with food and entertainment, but each Block Captain also received an enthusiastic response of donations to host their section’s event.
Even in their pilot year of this new model, Centralia’s Block Parties have brought in 100-200 community members participating in each event. Participants include business owners, elected officials, economic development partners, residents, and more.
Each Block Party highlights what that specific area brings to downtown – which businesses are there, improvements to the neighborhood, and any partnerships emerging for future growth. At one Block Party, the guest speaker from the nearby community college shared about a new sports complex that will impact downtown; at another, the Economic Alliance of Lewis County provided information about an early learning center opening on that end of downtown. The summer Block Party honored a legacy business in the district.
There are many aspects of organizational excellence at play here – willingness to change, a commitment to bringing more people in through education and fun, putting the spotlight on both the organization and the district, and showing value to elected officials, downtown stakeholders, and other partners.