What’s Up Downtown: It takes all the little things to make a whole lot of good (Voices) | nnbw.com
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What’s Up Downtown: It takes all the little things to make a whole lot of good (Voices)

Alex Stettinski

What's Up Downtown

Alex Stettinski is executive director for the Downtown Reno Partnership.
Courtesy photo

RENO, Nev. — Downtown Reno has been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, causing our community to find new ways to innovate and move forward despite it.

Normally right about now (also of this writing, July 29), we’d be finishing up the bowling tournament and enjoying a busy Artown, followed by a constant stream of events that take over the area.

But instead, we’re learning to enjoy the outdoors and other parts of our community, family and friends. In many ways, it has allowed us at the Downtown Reno Partnership to focus on the little things.

Here are some of the ways we’re rolling with the constant upheaval and uncertainty.

Heart Town 

This year, instead of Artown’s large summer gatherings, Artown changed into “Heartown.” The nonprofit, created to help local artists shine, put together a regional campaign to celebrate the “role art plays in our hearts, in our lives and in our communities.” 

Artown is asking everyone to “show us your heart through your art.” People can create hearts by crafting the symbols of love at home with supplies available around the house.

Work with your businesses, coworkers or family to make something meaningful to you and display it at your home or business.

All around downtown you’ll find hearts attached to fences and buildings. Take some time to walk around downtown to find them, especially along the river walk. Go to artown.org/heartown to see a gallery of the work people are displaying in their homes and neighborhoods.

New murals emerge from chaos

While you’re looking for those hearts, check out all the new murals appearing around town. After the riot in early June, City Hall and surrounding businesses installed wood panels on their broken windows (or to protect against additional damage).

Patagonia, for example, encased their building in wood panels. All of those panels then had new murals painted on them while awaiting repairs.

The Sierra Arts Foundation is looking for any businesses in the district that want to display art from Joe C. Rock, who has painted many other murals throughout town.

Joe painted murals on the boards that went up on City Hall, and they have since been removed after the windows were repaired. Sierra Arts Foundation would like to put them on display throughout the district, so if any businesses owners are interested, please contact us.

Flower baskets

Thanks to community partners, we were able to buy new flower baskets for the Sierra Street bridge over the Truckee River to help beautify the area.

Within 48 hours of defining the project cost, these 11 community members all donated to the purchase and installation of beautiful petunias:

  •  Cindy Carano
  •  Par Tolles
  •  Jim Gallaway
  •  Ken Krater
  •  Bob Dolan
  •  Bob Jones
  •  Darlene Arnold
  •  Marlane Fleeger
  •  George and Linda Burke
  •  Mike Rossman and Basin Street
  •  Downtown Reno Partnership

The project started by one of our board members, Jim Gallaway, brought back flower baskets on the bridge that had no longer been set up each summer.

A major part of the Partnership’s mission includes beautification of downtown, especially along Virginia Street and immediately surrounding areas.

It’s important that our downtown continue to remain clean and become more beautiful with street art, landscaping and lighting. We’re working on a project now that we’ll be excited to tell you about in the coming months. It combines all three of these things in a big way. Stay tuned.

Business forums begin

Our marketing manager and marketing committee launched their business owner forums in July after COVID-19 delayed the originally planned meeting for March. Though we can’t host them in person, we had a successful first-time event via Zoom.

Three business owners presented ways they’ve adapted to our newest normal.

Annika Caldwell, owner of Nordik Design in The Basement, talked about ways she’s continued to use marketing and advertising to attract customers to her website and store. In fact, she said she netted more money this summer than the same time last year.

Nyla Allen, owner of The Refuge Spa, talked about revamping her new employee training and orientation system. After losing many employees during the shutdown, she took the time to make sure her company is a fun, healthy and professional place to work where employees feel like they can do their best work.

Kevin Stanley, owner of Old-Granite Street Eatery (who we’ve mentioned before), talked about reconfiguring his restaurant into a marketplace to cover the needs of downtown residents.

Together, these three lead separate breakout rooms for other business owners to share ideas, ask questions and get to know each other. We’re now planning our second business forum for this month to address new topics that came up in the debriefing survey.

We’re excited to continue bringing the community together in these ways to keep the downtown businesses and residents moving forward.

“What’s Up Downtown” is a monthly Voices column in the NNBW authored by Alex Stettinski, executive director of the Downtown Reno Partnership. Reach him for comment at astettinski@downtownreno.org.