Many communities are using placemaking techniques to enhance their streets and build their communities. Art can enhance the connection that residents and tourists alike might have to a particular place, to communicate community values, foster creativeness, and build strong communities.
While not every community has the capacity for developing large murals, there are other smaller opportunities to support placemaking. This might include planters of colorful flowers, graceful fountains, benches, signage, and more. Indoors this might include displays of art, collections, cultural displays, music, and more. The wide variety of opportunities can provide something appealing to everyone.
Recently there was an unveiling of a large redwood driftwood sculpture at the Great American Smokehouse (15657 U.S. Hwy 101, Brookings). The unfinished sculpture had sat in storage for several years after Manuel Lopez passed away in 2010. Judy May-Lopez (Manuel’s wife) reached out to Mark Gautreaux, owner of Forecastle Books, about if and how this piece might be completed.
Manuel was an accomplished artist that sculpted in wood, stone, and bronze. He took inspiration from his years working as a commercial fisher and from driftwood he found on the beach. He would bring home the raw, weathered wood, and sculpt it based on his vision of the graceful movement of sea creatures.
Gautreaux reached out to local artist Jean-Luc Thornton who agreed to finish the piece. This was a challenging task. He would need to determine how to maintain the original design elements and ‘feel’ without changing the personality of the piece. The second phase was finishing the work so that it would fit in with other pieces by Lopez and preserve the wood.
The sculpture was unveiled in an informal ceremony at the Great American Smokehouse with descriptions of how the piece was crafted, the critical decisions Thornton had to make, and the plans for improving the display and lighting the piece.
This example supports the idea of placemaking helping to create distinctive opportunities to linger, imagine, and enjoy. It creates a place you will remember, a quality of living you seek, and a community you will want to come back to, over and over again.
To Be Honored: Lopez sculpture unveiling Saturday, Curry Coastal Pilot, 10/16/19
Using Art to Create a Sense of Place (https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/spaces-to-places/using-art-to-create-a-sense-of-place)
Related Blogs: Beautification impacts to local communities
A new report from the State of Oregon Employment Department sheds some light on the dilemma many Oregonians are finding themselves in.
The cost of homes is going up—no big surprise. Even so, they may still be affordable. The affordability index is based on three elements: 1) Average wages, 2) the cost of borrowing, and 3) housing costs.
The good news – average wages are slowly increasing in our region. This slow increase will help offset the raising house costs. In some of the more urban areas, wages are rising faster, but so are the house costs. The wages in Hood River are more than $1,100 lower than the state average. The average monthly mortgage sucked up nearly half of the wages (52 percent) making Hood River one of the least affordable housing locations in the state, followed closely by Bend (at 40%).
More good news – the cost of borrowing is really low. These low rates help slow and offset the rising house cost trends and make housing more affordable. Compared to the last expansion period, interest rates are two percentage points lower. Even 30-year fixed rates below 4 percent are available! 
But still, housing may be unobtainable. Competition for properties in our region has been tightening up as the inventory of available properties dip. The number of properties being offered is nearly 20 percent lower than this time in 2018. In some locations, like Portland, properties may seem to just fly off the market with only 9 median days before it is sold.
These three elements help the housing market look pretty good...kinda. Getting something affordable, regardless of what measure is being used, is certainly a goal. There are different definitions for affordable, depending on your situation, location, down payment, etc. Some say that your average mortgage should be no more than around 30 percent of your average income, others compare cost per foot costs, or have different percentages depending on the down payment.
But we may also have a different problem....Getting something, if there is nothing to choose from, is a very different problem. We have heard several stories that the lack of choice has caused recent ‘imports’ to leave because they just can’t find what they want or need. Either way, one thing is for sure—if there simply isn’t any housing available, ‘affordable’ may not matter.
1 Housing Affordability in Oregon (https://bit.ly/2lOeyrw)
2 July 2019 Market Action Report
3 Hot Market with Steady Prices (https://www.pdxlisted.com/hot-market-with-steady-prices-june-2016-portland-real-estate-market/)
The summer Coos County fair is always a lot of fun! This year’s fair featured five days packed with entertainment, food, and a new exhibit barn! The fair had a wealth of activities for young and old including exhibitions, competitions, classic car show, Country music, a parade, square dancers, roller derby, rodeo, rids, food and more! [1,2]
One highlight was the almost finished barn (fantastic!) packed full of livestock exhibits (horses, swine, sheep, and goats) with poultry and rabbits nearby. Visitors could browse well-cared for varieties of animals, participate in nearby animal auctions, sales, and fund raisers. Exhibitors seemed more able to maneuver around the space to take care of the animals during the heat of the afternoon greatly tempered by the metal roof shade. The barn construction will wrap up on August 5th with the Water Suppression system according to Debbie James, Fair Office Manager. 
Last year the 4H auction earned more than $500,000 which contributes to the local economy along with other monies earned during the Fair. Researchers have identified five ways that the economy is supported including bringing attention to natural resource activities, providing products and services that help retain money locally longer, attracting local residents and visitors to an area, and connecting a very diverse audience. The economic multiplier is $10:1 for State Funding. 
Not all of the benefits are easily measured. What is the value of building a community, teaching leadership and business skills, and helping to strengthen community networks? The Fair and the Fair community contribute more than what people might guess. What is the value of winning your first 'Best of Show" ribbon? A memory for a lifetime.
The Coos County Fair Alliance is always looking for ways to attract more participants and they saw success this year. This year’s fair agenda included a very wide array of events and activities (parade, demonstrations music, contests, food, and more), and several new twists (such as car show, music festival, increased seating around the food areas, and more discounts). 
Fair attendance was up every day, Ms. Debbie James, Fair Office Manager said. “Overall we did really, really well.” 
Next year, there could be a new Food Pavillion. The Coos County Fair Alliance is busy raising funds to complete phase 1 of the project construction. The new Pavilion will feature six food stations, covered seating, a patio and courtyard, a grape arbor, a tongue and groove wood ceiling, and evening lighting all protected under a roof featuring four gables and a cupola. The Pavilion will be available for year-round use and for special events and dance venues. Phase 2 could include a solar photovoltaic system. 
Oregon has 36 county fairs and one State Fair with more than 1.5 million Oregonians attending a County fair in 2017! This more than 100-year-old tradition offers something for everyone right in your own backyard. Did you miss it? Too bad—it was A LOT of fun! 
To find out when county fairs are scheduled go to: oregonfairs.org/information_about_fairs_in_Oregon 
Mark your calendars for Douglas County Fair, August 7-11 in Roseburg, and Oregon State Fair for August 24- September 3 in Salem. Curry and Lane Fairs just finished in late July.
1 Coos County Fair Features New Event This Year (https://theworldlink.com/news/local/coos-county-fair-features-new-events-this-year/article_5fa73679-9287-5938-804c-dcf7cbbb7992.html)
2 Coos County Fair & Rodeo (www.cooscountyfair.com)
3 Phone conversation with Debbie James, Fair Office Manager on 7/29/2019
4 Coos County Fair Contributes to local and student funds (https://kcby.com/news/local/coos-county-fair-contributes-to-local-and-student-funds)
5 Special Report, 1076 May 2007 Oregon County Fairs: An Economic Impact Analysis, OSU Extension report (https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/downloads/bg257g14n)
6 Coos County Fair Alliance (https://cooscountyfairalliance.org/food-pavilion)
7 About Us, .Oregon Fairs Association (https://oregonfairs.org/about.php)
A June 2019 review on Trip Advisor gave a poignant description of the Coos Bay Boardwalk that started off with “Nothing great to see.” I only wonder how many thousands of people will see that review and perhaps decide not to visit or bring their business here. Negative feedback on social media is almost inevitable, but many could be a catalyst for positive changes.
There have been many meetings and work on creating a Community Enhancement Plan that includes a Waterfront Development Partnership. Such a partnership might be just the forum for discussing and prioritizing improvements and focusing efforts on long-term benefits.
What should visitors see? Some might say they want a vibrant bay front, others may be more elaborate and want a waterfront that supports public access and business, provide recreational opportunities (such as walking, eating, and congregating), and others may be more focused on protecting the overall quality of life and environmental aspects. All of these goals are possible over time.
All of these goals are possible over time.
“Kind of run down but a beautiful view.”
The comment continues describing the waterfront as ‘kind of run down’ which could probably be applied to many rural disadvantaged communities that have lost economic vitality. The southern Oregon coast is blessed with several waterfronts many of which face some of the same issues as the larger ports such as Bellingham, Austin, Philadelphia, and San Diego: What purposes do we want our waterfront to serve? And how do we achieve those goals? Who decides what projects to do first?
This waterfront partnership was formed through an Intergovernmental Agreement for areas falling within the boundaries of the Bay Area Enterprise Zone and the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan. A lot of water has come and gone since the plan was first developed in early 2014. There have been around 30 public meetings where there are some agreements and some disagreements. The Waterfront Development Partnership would focus on five areas:
1. Establish a Wetland Mitigation Bank;
2. Establish programs to address Brownfield/Vacant Derelict Sites;
3. Provide Grants to Support Public Agency Projects;
4. Establish a Program to Support Private and/or Non-Profit Investment; and
5. Establish a Program to Support Land Use Planning and Permit Assistance
A great meal, a break in the sun, what a great afternoon?
“There are some historical displays...but when we walked up... there were some homeless people laying...”
The plan takes monies that were pledged by Jordan Cove in lieu of taxes that are being deferred under an Enterprise zone allowance. An Enterprise zone is an area that exempts businesses from local property taxes for a specific time period. There are 73 Enterprise zones in Oregon, with 56 of those residing in rural areas, and 10 ports all meeting specific economic hardship criteria.
Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston, and Coos County benefit from a Community Enhancement Plan and the development of a waterfront partnership. The detail on how to make this work is still elusive for the work group and discussions continue.
“I do love looking at the boats.”
A compelling waterfront agreement could start the renewal process and provide the funding for improving public access and use, making adjacent underutilized parcels more attractive, and perhaps improving how the waterfronts and our communities are perceived. The challenge is to be creative in finding a plan that all of the partners can agree with. That goal will take a lot more negotiations and discussions.
As for the quotes from the Trip Advisor, we are stuck with them for now. We can change the situation. It’s just going to take a bit more work to get there.
MAY IS NATIONAL BIKE MONTH!
Bicycling can help bring in big bucks for communities. Two recent studies on outdoor recreation point to bicycling contributing $96-97 billion in annual retail sales nationally (Bureau of Economic Analysis and Outdoor Industry Association).1
Outdoor recreation was included in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) calculations for the first time in 2018 and undoubtedly surprised a few folks. The economic powerhouse created an output of $734 billion in 2018 which surpassed many other industries such as agriculture, petroleum and coal, and computer/electronic products (Outdoor Recreation Roundtable) Bicycle recreation, based on the Outdoor Industry Association, contributed to the creation of 848,000 jobs in 2017.1
Oregon Scenic Bikeways are one way of promoting bicycling road rides. On the south coast, the Wild Rivers Coast Bikeway was designated in 2015 around the Port Orford area. It is the only Oregon Scenic Bikeway on the Oregon coast! The moderate 61-mile route can be completed in one or more days with out-and-back rides. The historic Battle Rock Park in Port Orford is a great starting place with views of Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve. There are also other stretches like the 17-mile ride on the Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest following the Wild and Scenic Elk River through old-growth forest. To find out more about this year around bikeway check the brochure located at https://traveloregon.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/10-Year-Anniversary-Scenic-Bikeway-Brochure_Web.pdf.
If you want to know more about Outdoor Recreation you might want to check in to the Oregon Outdoor Recreation Summit, May 13-14, Bend “Building Connections, Inspiring Actions.” For more info see https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=v.dsp_featureArticle&articleId=252.
Photo below is from the Wild and Scenic Elk River area.
The South Coast Development Council focuses on activities that involve business retention/ recruitment, and expansion. Outdoor recreation activities, such as biking, can help diversify and support businesses all along the coast. Let's get out and ride!