Connecting with positive changes in Gloversville

Santa Michael Medina, owner of Fulton County Barbershop in downtown Gloversville, gives Hayden Darling of Gloversville a free pre-Christmas haircut. Medina will be honored at a Placemaking dinner with the first-ever Placemaking in Gloversville award. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

GLOVERSVILLE — Downtown revitalization efforts will be recognized and area residents will have a chance to learn how they can make positive, lasting change in their community, all while enjoying a meal together during Placemaking in Gloversville: A Celebration Dinner at the Eccentric Club on May 2.

The event organized by the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth and Downtown Development Specialist Jennifer Jennings is a continuation of the two-day Placemaking 101 Conference held downtown in April 2018 featuring discussions and presentations from nationally recognized placemaking experts and local residents working to impact their community. The event was capped off by a dinner reception.

Jennings said Thursday that she plans to make the Placemaking 101 Conference a biannual event set to return to the city in 2020 after last year’s positive response. To bring area residents together each year to form connections and discuss new and ongoing revitalization efforts, Jennings said a placemaking dinner will be held annually.

“As part of the [conference] we had a dinner for people that could not go to the whole conference or who wanted to stay to learn more,” Jennings said. “We had such a great response about the dinner last year that it was an easy decision to continue the dinner in 2019. The placemaking dinner is meant to connect the community who is present to inspire them.”

Jennings is a proponent of placemaking, sharing the practice with city officials and community members since taking her position at the CRG in 2017 while collaborating on small, low cost projects and events downtown to gradually reshape and revitalize the city’s central hub to grow out from there.

“Placemaking is a bottom-up, community-generated economic development practice that reconnects the community with their common spaces and helps to create interest, use and pride in the city,” according to Jennings.

From the upcoming dinner, Jennings hopes area residents will take away new placemaking ideas they can apply to their community from featured speaker Coleen Fabrizi of Corning’s Gaffer District.

As executive director of the Corning Intown District Management Association, Inc., Fabrizi has helped transform Corning’s downtown Market Street into a retail, service and dining center, strengthening existing businesses while motivating new investment.

“Her focus is on community generated change. She believes in community collaboration,” Jennings said.

Jennings explained that Corning is similar in size to Gloversville with a similar downtown that in recent years has undergone extensive revitalization to become a center for activity that local residents can draw examples from.

“They have done this through really a bottom-up way of economic development and results have been both positive and sustainable. It is a really great inspiration to look at other entities that are comparable to us,” Jennings said.

Additionally, Jennings said during the dinner the first annual Placemaker in Gloversville award, given to a business, person or entity that embraces the ideals of placemaking to create positive change in the community downtown, will be presented to Fulton County Barber shop owner Michael Medina.

Jennings said Medina was selected as the first award recipient due to his work developing his North Main Street business into a community space, hosting annual events such as Read to the Barber and Haircuts with Santa to prepare children mentally and physically to go back to school or to enjoy the holidays with a fresh haircut.

“He has created a community space that is welcoming, innovative and fun in downtown,” Jennings said, pointing to events he has created to provide kids haircuts for free or half-price. “That’s a really fun way of reconnecting them to the built environment, it draws them into downtown and creates a sense of place, pride and fun.”

Overall, Jennings hopes the placemaking dinner will inspire area residents to make positive change in their communities year round, noting an opportunity to have a positive impact on the city will present itself just two days later when the city hosts 100 in 1 Day for the first time.

Part of a global citizen driven movement, 100 in 1 Day asks local residents to do roughly 100 small positive acts of service in their city on a single day to inspire the community at large to continue taking positive actions the rest of the year. The event will be held across the city on May 4 with events and projects from community groups, organizations, businesses and individuals.

“The whole goal of the placemaking dinner and 100 in 1 Day is to inspire continued change throughout the year,” Jennings said. “Places change, revitalize and become welcoming when community members pull together to make positive change. Placemaking really comes down to individual effort. Change is never predicated on one person, but can happen when many people make the decision to make change.”

Placemaking in Gloversville: A Dinner Celebration will be held May 2 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Eccentric Club located at 109 N. Main St. Tickets are available for purchase now through Tuesday for $50 per person or $350 for a table of eight.

Tickets can be purchased online at downtowngloversville.org or by contacting Jessica at the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth at (518) 725-7700, Ext. 1004.

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