What a great day, LMV ‘Arts & Culture/Quality of Life Day’ was! I was looking forward to it as arts and culture are topics I love, plus it was a nice day out and we were going to be taking a walking tour of Utica. Well, it was even better than I had hoped. I experienced pieces of Utica I had not before, and left feeling motivated and inspired!
We started at the ThINCubator, an entrepreneur/start-up space that provides people programs and a place to accelerate the ideas of entrepreneurs. Here we watched a video of a recent Utica TEDx talk from Michelle Truett, Owner of 484 Design who has been instrumental in strategy for revitalizing downtown Utica and Baggs Square. Her talk was, “Microbranding Utica – Mile by Mile”. Then Michelle joined us live, and gave us our walking tour to the Landmarc Building.
We learned all about the Baggs Square area, what it was originally, how it’s been repurposed, and its current growth. When we got to the Landmarc Building we saw the new loft apartments and Ocean Blue Rooftop Restaurant and Bar.
Michelle did an excellent job of personifying Utica. It made me really look at our city differently and see this “person” that had been thriving, fall on hard times and get depressed, lose friends and self-worth. Then one day this person woke up and said, “I need to make a change. I don’t like this person I’ve become. I want my life back.” To look at it this way and see that a group of people has made this decision to revitalize our city, to know that’s happening and that I can get on board and contribute is pretty cool.
We also toured Gerber’s 1933 Tavern, the Children’s Museum, Baggs Square Commemorative Park and Union Station. We continued to the Fort Schuyler Club for lunch, and then to the Stanley Center for the Arts and the F.X. Matt Brewery. Although familiar with the Stanley, we did get a back stage tour, so I saw pieces I had not seen before. Ending at the Brewery on my birthday was a superb bonus!
At the Brewery, we learned about the Brewery’s economic impact on Utica, and representatives from the United Way and Community Foundation presented to us regarding our upcoming projects.
The day evoked a feeling of passion for the City of Utica that I haven’t felt before. It was great to see and feel the energy of our city. My daily life revolves in and around the suburbs of Utica. This was a noticeable change – To be downtown and feel this new energy and vibrancy. We learned about the history of Utica, its ascent to its heyday, then the job losses and population decline, and now this new resurgence. Our city is on the uptick again. There’s a positive buzz and a good vibe.
I felt like I might now have a purpose with our city. I’m inspired and motivated to help, and through LMV I am afforded this opportunity. The problems had seemed too big, but there is already a committed group of people, and I feel like I can jump in and help move things forward. I needed this spark.
And now… The Children’s Museum. The LMV Arts & Culture Project Team of which I am a part had considered opportunities at the Children’s Museum as a choice for our project. After today, this was solidified for our team. The Children’s Museum had started out strong, a viable entity in our area for children to learn, play and explore. It fell on hard times and now has a new leader who is breathing new life into the museum. But they need help, and we feel we are the group to help them.
For our next steps we’ll meet with the museum to talk about ideas, what we can offer and what they need. We’ll set reasonable expectations of what can be done in the next 6 months. We’d like to truly be a strategic resource for them with a solid action plan that they can use moving forward.
All I can say is, “Wow!” What an eye-opening and rejuvenating day.
– Brenda Rogowski, Loan and Deposit Operations Manager LMV Participant