I’ve spent my career working to help communities reignite their city centers, historic neighborhoods, and downtown districts. To say the work is challenging would be as much of an understatement as it is to say it is rewarding. There is no short game in urban revitalization. It requires vision, collaboration, insight, passion, and the ability to go the distance. But ultimately, real transformation creates real opportunity, empowers small business, encourages creativity, brings people together, and nurtures diversity.
In the emotional aftermath of George Floyd’s senseless death, my placemaking colleagues across the country and I are heartbroken, because we truly believe our work can be part of the solution. Floyd’s death took me back to 2014, the year that Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. I had been working with the St. Louis community on their downtown revitalization efforts, and I experienced the anguish and anger of the African American community as they struggled against a broken system. I learned many lessons from that experience; most fundamentally that once trust is lost, it's not easily rebuilt. But there is a way to build accountability, and that’s an important first step.
Today and much closer to home, I could not be more grateful to the Arlington Police Department, City staff, and others for their trustworthy and professional response to the protests that took place earlier this week in our city. Criminal behavior was squelched; civil discourse and lawful assembly was respected.
Second, I must thank the Downtown businesses who not only served but shared genuine kindness with all who gathered. Special shout outs to J. Gilligan’s for offering free meals to police officers on duty and to Inclusion Coffee for providing free cold beverages to peaceful protestors.
Speaking of peaceful protestors: thank you to all that lawfully gathered who, in spite of the injustice they may have seen or experienced, were able to express themselves more out of love than anger.
Finally, thank YOU for continuing to keep Downtown Arlington businesses top of mind. We hope you’ll give them a clear sign of your support – whether inside, curbside, or on the patio – by Rallying around them this weekend.
DOWNTOWN ARLINGTON DRIVE-IN RESTAURANT RALLY: JUNE 4-7, 2020
It’s time to rally around Downtown businesses!
Starting today, the Downtown Arlington Drive-In Restaurant Rally is in full swing. As featured in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Fort Worth Business Press, this four-day call to action runs from Thursday, June 4 through Sunday, June 7, 2020.
Getting involved in the rally is as easy as visiting at least one Downtown Arlington business every day of this four-day weekend. Check out our website for a listing of Downtown restaurants and bars offering "Restaurant Rally" specials for dine-in, patio dining, carry out and curbside pick-up. Partial proceeds from sales benefit Mission Arlington, and patrons will also have a chance to contribute directly to Mission Arlington, a non-profit organization that provides services such as food, clothing and medical care to Arlington area families in need.
CALLING ALL ARTISTS: FREE FINANCIAL LITERACY WORKSHOPS
The Downtown arts community is a tremendous source of inspiration and pride for our city, earning us the designation of an official State of Texas Cultural District. Sadly, just as the economic impact of COVID-19 has put many small businesses in peril, the pandemic has disrupted the creative activity of our arts institutions.
In response, Downtown Arlington has begun its process to conduct a shared arts feasibility study which will provide our arts community both short-term support and long-term strategic planning insights. As I’ve mentioned in my previous letter, the process is being guided by the DAMC Cultural Arts Committee, which is comprised of representatives from local arts organizations, artists, and community stakeholders, and Webb Mgmt., a nationally recognized arts research and consultant firm.
In response to the immediate needs of our artists and arts institutions, Webb Mgmt. and Downtown Arlington are pleased to announce two free financial literacy courses for our arts community.
- Strategic Planning in the Pandemic for Non-Profit Cultural Organizations: June 16, 2020 at noon. This two-part webinar is designed for our local non-profit cultural organizations. The first part is an hour-long, interactive webinar focusing on how to plan for the next three months. The second part, to be scheduled separately, is an hour-long session on how to plan for the next three years. Both sessions involve thinking and planning around organizational mission, programming, audience-building and retention, funding and budgeting, and communications.
- Financial Literacy for Artists: June 18, 2020 at noon. This hour-long webinar is an introduction to finance for creative industry workers. The objective is to empower artists of all kinds with the language and principles of finance so they can be masters of their own financial destiny.
If you’re a local individual artist or arts group interested in participating, please email Elena Thaxton, DAMC Office and Marketing Coordinator, at Elena@downtownarlington.org.
DOWNTOWN CON-GRAD-ULATES THE CLASS OF 2020
Arlington has always been a “y’all come” kind of place, so when DFW-area educators needed large, open-air venues to accommodate social distancing best practices, our city became high school graduation headquarters! Over 50 area high schools are holding ceremonies in Globe Life Field, AT&T Stadium, and the Levitt Pavilion from now through the end of June.
In partnership with the Texas Rangers, AISD and the Levitt Pavilion, Downtown Arlington is reaching across North Texas to the Class of 2020, inviting them to celebrate here before and after their ceremonies. Grads and their families can enjoy our great local cuisine, sunny patios, and unique shopping, along with Congrads! specials tailored just for them.
We’re also providing information about murals and other public art installations throughout Downtown, which provide colorful backdrops for cap and gown selfies. Visit our website for a listing of participating restaurants and shops, map, and public art locations.
FULL SERIES NOW AVAILABLE: DOWNTOWN ARLINGTON ROOTS
Thank you for helping our original Downtown Arlington Roots podcast surpass 65,000 views! You can now enjoy the entire 6-episode series, featuring conversations with leaders, experts, artists and innovators about Downtown’s fascinating past and hopes for the future.
Tune in wherever you enjoy podcasts, including iTunes, Spotify, the Downtown Arlington video archive on Facebook, and YouTube.
President and CEO
Downtown Arlington Management Corporation
P.S. Have you spotted unsung heroes and random acts of kindness in Downtown? Please tell us about them on our social media page, and be sure to tag #ArlingtonKindness and @cityofarlington in your post.