One of the guiding principles behind the Place Changing series the Rivard Report published in partnership with Overland Partners in September was that the work isn’t meant to live a static life online. It’s meant to breath – to inform and become a part of neighborhood development conversations in living rooms, watering holes, association meetings, and ultimately at City Hall.

On Wednesday, Oct. 21, Alamo Brewery will host our first  Place Changing Neighborhood Forum. The event will give residents, readers, and leaders an opportunity to reflect on inclusive change and explore the specific projects and possibilities to be found in Dignowity Hill and in other evolving Eastside neighborhoods. The Dignowity Hill Historic District was the first neighborhood to be explored in what will become a continuing series examining the challenges and opportunities in the city’s established and emerging neighborhoods.

Where should we go next? The Mission district on the Southside? The Westside? What do you see as the biggest challenge facing more sustainable infill development?

Wednesday’s event at the Alamo Brewery is free and open to the public. There will be food trucks and a cash bar. Seating is first come, first served with standing room available for latecomers.

Dignowity Meats staff watches the sunset during the Pints & Politics mayoral forum at the Alamo Beer brewery. Photo by Scott Ball.
Dignowity Meats workers watch the sunset during the Rivard Report’s Pints & Politics mayoral forum at the Alamo Beer brewery on March 11, 2015. Photo by Scott Ball.

Mayor Ivy Taylor, a Dignowity Hill resident, will offer opening remarks. Overland Partners Principal Madison Smith, who committed the firm to the inaugural project, will speak about community building.

Robert Rivard, this website’s director, will moderate a panel discussion with Councilmember Alan Warrick III (D2), Alamo Beer Founder Eugene Simor, Overland Partners Architect Allison Hu and Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association Vice President Brian Dillard. All of the panelists were featured in the Place Changing series and will offer their unique perspectives on Dignowity Hill, its future, and its relationship to the larger Eastside.

The primary goal of the forum is simple: inspire meaningful infill development and enrich neighborhood culture. That can be done by challenging the community to move beyond what it doesn’t want toward what it does want. It means moving the neighborhood beyond the often-shrill gentrification debate and toward a shared conversation about the real possibilities.

The last time this happened on the Eastside in an inclusive way was in 2009 with  the birth of a neighborhood plan in affiliation with the Eastside Reinvestment Plan, which detailed eight reinvestment priorities, including infill and rehabilitated housing, safety, complete streets and public space, economic development, and the safeguarding of historic resources.

Upon reflection, residents have seen interesting things happen since then, but most believe realization of the goals set forth in the plan have been slow to materialize. For years, energized Eastside locals have been working to improve the community’s quality of life from the bottom-up, one project at a time. The Place Changing forum aims to recognize and harness this type of entrepreneurial energy in a room with the ears of policymakers and the development community to talk about the next big actionable ideas.

Dignowity Hill residents try to make the best of the "pool" on Lamar Street. Photo by Scott Ball.
Dignowity Hill residents try to make the best of the “pool” on Lamar Street. Photo by Scott Ball.

In order to complete the feedback loop, we are inviting attendees to arrive by 6:30 p.m. to engage panelists and take part in the “Future of My Park,” an interactive exhibit that invites input on design proposals reflecting the results of the recent community visioning forum for Lockwood and Dignowity Parks. Guests also will have the opportunity to review and discuss projects in the pipeline, public and private, and consider the next round of public investments that might become part of the  2017-2022 Municipal Bond Survey.

Related Stories:

Place Changing Survey: We Want Your Feedback

Welcome to Place Changing

Change Brewing in St. Paul’s Square

Vacant Lots in Dignowity Hill Will Be Filled

Immigrating to Dignowity Hill: Empty Lots, Fixer-Uppers, and The Perfect Fit

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Allison Hu and Iris Dimmick

Allison Hu is an urban designer at Overland Partners. Iris Dimmick is managing editor of the Rivard Report.