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RCOV GOES TO PITTSBURGH #GAMSA17

Celebrating Renaissance Covington’s Win Together

So it might have been a few months ago, but the impact of winning the GAMSA (Great American Main Street Award) will have a lasting effect on our beloved little city- so let’s keep spreading the news and celebrating our successes!

Back in May, a group of 11 Renaissance Covington Board Members and friends traveled to Pittsburgh for the Main Street Now Conference. As a finalist for the GAMSA, this was the year for us to not only bring a large group of supporters, but also to market our Renaissance (Main Street) district to a national platform. The conference, the team, the city, and ultimately winning the GAMSA, made for a three-day whirlwind of excitement. All-in-all, Covington, we should be proud. The conference celebrated our credibility and brought to light that our renaissance? Iss driven by our people – dedicated residents and business owners that are committed to our growth. It’s because of all of us that our renaissance is not just for now, but is sustainable.

Here are some conference takeaways:

Pittsburgh’s Kinda Cool – Despite being a rival Midwest city (likely causing us to have some low expectations), Pittsburgh was a pleasant surprise for our entire group. The parks, bridges (400+), public art, and inclines provided a scenic view. The downtown core was easily walkable with several public transportation options. The city seemed to be forward thinking (or rather economical) in color coating everything yellow and black. We certainly left Pittsburgh with appreciation for another city with Midwestern charm and character – not to mention we brought back some ideas to incorporate into our own town!

“No place will stay special by accident.” It takes planning and commitment by organizations like Renaissance Covington to maintain the personality of the local communities that we all love. Ed McMahon, the conference’s keynote speaker, is well versed on the economics and arguments for supporting organizations like ours. It’s hard to dispute the data of the positive impact that supporting small businesses and communities can have. Think of the state of large developments that have occurred in recent decades – the malls, the business centers, the aquarium fad. As Ed commented, “It’s not about the one big thing, but the synergy among the small things.” Our community works hard to create and maintain that synergy among our small businesses and residents.

We are thought leaders. Throughout the conference, I was continuously surprised by how people came to us for inspiration and with questions about our work. Katie Meyer, our Executive Director and Jim Guthrie, our Board President, presented to a full crowd about our Curb’d parklet program (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IGZqCpyaqQ), using this program as a model of success in a public art avenue. People also commented on footage from our Award Video (https://vimeo.com/214555096) , asking how we were able to execute certain programming or public art. RCOV is certainly a leader in the Main Street space with our innovative ideas and events, all of which wouldn’t be possible without the support of our engaged community.

YIMBY. Ok, so this idea was actually first presented to me during a recent trip to Nashville with Leadership Northern Kentucky, but I think Pittsburgh showed positive signs of that mentality. YIMBY stands for “Yes, In My Backyard” (a positive variation of NIMBY, “Not in my backyard”: a reference to the opposition of unfavorable developments or inclusion of underprivileged sectors of society “in your back yard.”) While in Pittsburgh, a few of us had the opportunity to visit Alphabet City, a neighborhood known for inclusion and being a safe haven for artists often of diverse cultural backgrounds. It is home to the City of Asylum and neighboring Mattress Factory, two unique art hubs and museums. That experience (definitely a highlight of the trip) challenged me to think – “What is Covington doing to be an inclusive city?” While Renaissance Covington works to promote inclusivity and accessibility in our efforts and programs, there is more going on in Covington, for which we’re grateful. Our friends at the Center for Great Neighborhoods are working hard particularly by celebrating the diversity of the Westside neighborhood. Can we all build upon those efforts and do more? What if Covington was known for being a YIMBY city?

RCOV is OurCOVAnother takeaway I liked from Ed McMohan was “Most Americans care more about the place they live in than the politics they align with.” Unfortunately, it’s a tough political climate out there. However, we can take comfort in celebrating our local efforts and successes that bond us together. Take pride in this win, Covington, and help celebrate it with us because RCOV is OURCOV.

Molly Berens is the Founder and Owner of Spotted Yeti Media, a full-service video production company located in Covington. Molly holds the position of Renaissance Covington’s Board Secretary.