Look it up in the dictionary and youll find the word organic nestled between organ grinder and organization. Websters defines organic as the systematic coordination of the parts, something we aspire to but settle for organized chaos or messy vitality.
Downtowns are ever-changing organisms, a term defined as a complex structure of interdependent elements whose relations are largely determined by their functions as a whole.
Right on, Webby, old boy, like America itself, downtowns are a blend, a mixture, a partially dysfunctional family of mutts. Downtown operators are feisty independents, loosely organized, and yet much dependent on each other for the success of the whole. (Dependency is something thats hard for most independents to admit.) We are the one-person organ grinder and the large organization both needing each other to succeed.
Interesting maybe, but why should you care?
First, downtowns are organic: They are ever-evolving steadily, quietly and daily. The most noticeable changes are caused by the cruel economics of the marketplace. Some businesses simply miss the mark and quickly fail. Equally painful are those that decline slowly over time by refusing to adapt to ever-changing market conditions.
Whats left are a majority of businesses that are constantly upgrading their spaces, inventories, menus and levels of customer service. Inside these businesses you can feel the flow of positive energy. And even in the current economy, we see new business enterprises continually popping up with ideas and enthusiasm.
Thats worth caring about because these ongoing small changes are constantly redefining the whole. This keeps the downtown experience fresh and appealing, and it attracts future prospective business investment. Thats indeed organic.
Second, you should care because our little jewel of a downtown is the golden goose, the centerpiece of our areas many economic generators that attracts tourists, residents, students, business and commerce.
Just as we think we all live independently, the quality of life we enjoy is much dependent on the economic success of the broader community. And its a proven fact that as a downtown goes, so goes the community. Indeed, we singularly reap what we collectively sow. And thats organic.
Lastly, a healthy organism requires active, not passive, care and feeding.
We as busy, multitasking humans unconsciously fall into routines and ruts, About 2,000 people work in the downtown area, and most workers drive the same route to work, park in the same area and work in the same building.
As locals, our most important contribution to a healthy downtown may be to simply pay attention. The best way to do that is to walk, not drive, downtown and take notice of the new and diverse offering of shops, restaurants and galleries.
Walk Main, walk Second Avenue, walk the cross streets. Youll find vibrant new choices that need and appreciate your care and feeding. Downtown on foot is an ever-changing, organic experience youll be proud to be part of.
firstname.lastname@example.org Bob Kunkel is downtown business development manager for the city of Durango.