I have been involved with a volunteer group of residents and business owners in Sebastopol in the organization of a international design ideas competition.  The competition is called The Core Project and has been designed to generate ideas for the ‘vitalizing’ of our downtown.  As I noted in my last post, downtown Sebastopol has a lot of potential that is not being realized.  The Core Project seeks ideas to help inspire a collective vision for what our town may become.  We hope to support and grow our existing downtown businesses and create the space to attract new businesses and residents to create a vibrant and thriving urban core.

The competition opened in August 2011 and entries were due last Friday, February 3rd.  A panel of local professionals including architects, urban designers, a developer, an artist and a permaculture designer will by judging the entries Saturday, February 11th.  The day will be capped by a public reception where all 24 entries received will be on view.  The winner(s) will be announced and ballots will be available for the public to vote for their favorite design.  Entry boards will be on display in downtown storefronts for a week after the competition to allow the public additional time to see the ideas generated.  It’s been really an exciting process and very satisfying to see the level of thought put into the competition.

The steering committee sees the competition as the catalyst for the start of a public dialogue regarding the future of our town.  There is a serious lack of vision, and development and change has been happening in a very piecemeal fashion for years.  Although the downtown ‘works’ the lack of a clear and focused vision is obvious.  As in so much of the country the car has completely dominated development patterns in the post WWII era at the expense of us humans.  We are planning a series of follow-up meetings to further engage the community, political leaders and downtown stakeholders to determine how to move forward with ideas generated by the competition.  The city is about to undergo a general plan update so we are hoping to help guide that visioning process with ideas inspired by the competition.

If you are in Sebastopol February 11th please stop by.  The event details are:

Public Reception:

When: Saturday, February 11, 6-9 PM

Where: 176 N. Main Street (site of the former Copperfields Used Bookstore)