Downtown students plan community engagement project
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Senior Westmont Downtown program participant Olivia Hartford shared that two weeks ago a group of students were challenged “to bring more college students, particularly Westmont students, to State Street more frequently since city participation has been dwindling since the 1980s.” On October 31, a group of students in the Downtown program--Zac Barnard, Eva Pauley, Morgan Erickson, Olivia Hartford, and Kayla Peterson--proposed a strategy that will encourage greater community building in Santa Barbara to a group of city influencers in hopes for their assistance in tackling a city-wide project.
“We did it in two weeks! We came up with the idea quickly, and after contacting some of the people we thought most important in helping us with this project, everything went pretty smoothly,” said Hartford. The group had the idea to close one to two different blocks downtown to host a monthly street fair that would highlight different parts and businesses of the central Santa Barbara location. They envision outdoor games like corn hole, live music from local bands, local art, and food to attract community members and illuminate the active city that Santa Barbara is.
After creating a community engagement proposal, the students organized a meeting with the Manager of Paseo Nuevo, Kristen Weidemann; Amy Cooper, the owner of Plum Goods-- a small business on State Street that supports local artists and ethical crafts; Tamara Erickson, the manager of Hotel California, and Jeff Shaffer, who works for SB Act. In this meeting, further ideas were drafted for highlighting different restaurants downtown with vouchers for appetizers for students and community members, promoting small businesses, as well as possible discounted or free parking in the garages in order to development event involvement.
After finalizing an effective way to bring locals together with the city influencers, the team will be moving forward with monthly community events. Hartford says that she, Barnard, and Pauley will keep working on the project come the new year when their time in the Downtown program has ended, but continues, “we’re hoping to collaborate with an organization that can continue the event for as long as it’s viable.” They are shooting for the first event to be the third week of February, and monthly from then on.