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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Visions and brands

Exercises in futility. In the city:

Walk down Calhoun Street on a Thursday around lunchtime and feel the energy: bike racks are full, sidewalk tables in front of restaurants are full, and the plaza around One Summit Square is full of food trucks and people.

How did it get that way? Is it the live music? Is it the restaurants? Or is it the cityscape that enables those things – the music, the food – to thrive and draw people?

That question – how to create an environment that draws the things that draw people – will be constantly scrutinized this summer as part of Vision 2, a project of the 2013 Design Center. The Design Center is a collaboration of several Fort Wayne agencies to hire Ball State University architectural students as part-time interns to help envision downtown.

[. . .]

A lot of this is to get people to think about design and the value of aesthetic design and its place in our community,” said Jim Hoch, an architect who helped get the project started. “Too often we just bare-bone it. We say, ‘It’s just a bridge.’ But it’s really about quality of life.”

And at the state level:

When I heard Indiana is developing a new brand to boost tourism, I had mixed emotions.

First, I agreed with Mark Newman, executive director of the state's Office of Tourism Development, that "Restart Your Engines" is a little too Indy 500 focused, especially for the automotive-challenged who don't get off on watching loud cars go around in long circles for three hours.

On the other hand, those brands are painful, and I don't think I have any more room on my butt for them. I'm still recovering from "Wander Indiana," but then who isn't? I'm all about boosting tourism, so I might have to pack on a few pounds to make room.

Newman said the state needs a slogan that captures everything from the beauty of the dunes to the "allure" of the Ohio River valley. A slogan that broad might require every vehicle to have at least 20 license plates to hold it all. Either that or go with "Indiana: Land of Delusion."

Ah, where would we be without visions and branding? There must be just scads of entrepreneurs out there eager to put more stuff downtown that will lure lots and lots of people. If only someone had a vision for downtown, darn it, and would explain it to them so they can understand the value of aesthetic design and get the thing done right! And I just know there are thousands and thousands of tourists just dying to go somewhere that would be lured here if only they heard the right branding slogan!

I had a vision once, but I took a pill and it went away.

Posted in: Hooser lore, Our town