The following were my remarks at last night's League of Women Voters Forum:
You can read about me in my brochure. I’m going to talk about Edmonds.
Although it’s important to discuss what we want for our city 10-15 years from now, huge projects, such as an urban village on the Port property, won’t be happening soon, because the current economic climate does not support large, expensive projects. Right now, Edmonds would be better served by a focus on filling our empty store fronts and offices, such as those in Perrinville and the former Old Milltown.
So, how do we fill these empty commercial buildings? We start by looking at what's been working.
A few examples of successful projects that have enhanced Edmonds are the Summer Market, the Third Thursday Art Walk, the Murals, and the Pentaque courts. Michael Burdett’s Edmonds Sports Academy brought families into Edmonds all summer to participate in competitions at the ECA gym. These projects are from the ground up ideas — community experiments that have been successful. I call these “agile designed projects."
Agile design is from the ground up. An individual or small group tries an idea. If it works, you do more of it. If the project falls flat, no big deal, because you didn’t spend a lot of money or create something so expensive that you can’t easily move on. Some will take, some won’t. Let the community decide. Even agile projects that don't immediately use an empty building, such as the summer market, could develop into ones that do. No doubt, successful businesses bring more businesses.
The role of the City should be to support these experiments in agile business projects -- to make it easy for people to start their projects in our city. We can preserve what works for us, while using our imagination to create new economic opportunities. I know that there are many creative ideas out there. Edmonds can build on the success of these agile projects by creating an identity as the place to come for community-created businesses. An earned identity is the best brand of all.
Thank you for being here.
For more on agile design.