Ready or not!
Big changes are afoot aqui en Taos.
For one thing, Taos Air will be flying in summer as well as winter, with more destinations planned, providing locals and visitors with a stress free, time-saving option, coming and going from high country.
Yesterday I joined my daughter Genevieve Oswald, at the Community Roll-Out Party at Hotel Don Fernando de Taos, to celebrate the completion of the Strong at Heart Downtown Strategy.
The agenda was simple; take a look through the report, and discuss next steps for moving forward in creating a thriving downtown for all Taoseños.
We arrived at the same time as Janet Webb, who along with my daughter and others who were at the event, is on the MainStreet Steering Committee, but I digress.
Strong at Heart is a project created by the Town of Taos focused on bringing Taoseños together to create a vision and strategy for Downtown Taos.
Recognizing Downtown Taos as the heart of our community, the civic and economic and cultural centre of town, reflecting our history and heritage, as well as our future; where we all come together. Strong at Heart has jump-started the MainStreet Project.
New Mexico MainStreet operates a “tiered” system, in which communities have several points of entry for participation in the state program.
Organizations must meet certain staged benchmarks to progress through the program. All communities wishing to pursue MainStreet must first apply to participate in the program.
Participating communities create a local organization and public-private partnership with the local government, and implement small-scale downtown revitalization projects. Communities selected, receive guidance, advice and training from New Mexico MainStreet personnel. No funding is associated with this program. Projects and activities are supported through local fundraising efforts from the public and private sectors.
With only a little over a thousand communities and towns nationally participating in the program (more than twenty in N.M alone), Taos’ inclusion in the program was a long shot, but the crack team at the Town of Taos decided it was worth a try, and went for it.
The inclusion of several young members of our community on the Board (including Executive Director/Curator of the Couse-Sharp Foundation, Davison Koenig, and Jonah Reynolds of Pangea Builders, a partner of Earthship Biotecture), has certainly brought fresh and enthusiastic energy to the program, not to mention vision
Last July, New Mexico MainStreet announced that Taos had been selected into the NMMS Accelerator Program. The MainStreet program promotes a community-driven process that brings stakeholders from all sectors together, inviting them to be proactive participants in the revitalization process.
“Participation in the MainStreet Accelerator Process sets a strong foundation for communities to pursue asset-based economic development work and become designated MainStreet Communities,” said Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Matt Geisel. “Taos will benefit from professional assistance and join a network of revitalization partners and MainStreet communities in New Mexico.”
The Taos Accelerator initiative seeks to capitalize on the momentum established by the Strong at Heart efforts, a year-long public engagement process that has established a unifying vision of the Taos Downtown Strategy.
Key elements include improved walkability with expanded pathways, a downtown bike network, infill housing, mixed-use and destination development along with enhancing entrepreneurial and local business opportunities.
The Strong at Heart efforts aim to galvanize Taos residents, downtown businesses along with civic leaders, to create a vibrant and thriving downtown that continues to respect the historic culture of our community.
Yesterday, most of MainStreet’s Board members were in the house, along with Mayor Dan Barone, Town Manager Rick Bellis, and our fabulous Director of Tourism and Marketing, Karina Armijo. Mitch Miller (who was celebrating his birthday was also there.)
I spoke with all of them briefly and will have more about them, and all they have done (and continue to do), for Taos, in the not too distant future. Their accomplishments are many, and the projects they have in the works, including the MainStreet initiative, will set the tone for Taos’ future.
Meanwhile, to discover more about this exciting program you can access the Strong at Heart Downtown Strategy Report online. The report is the product of this ongoing collaborative, community-driven effort to craft a vision for the downtown district, as well as a practical, project-oriented plan for making it happen.
It is to be used by the Town of Taos, project partners, and the wider community as a guiding document for working towards the community’s goal of creating a thriving downtown for everyone. Read or download a copy at downtowntaos.com
For more information on this and other projects and events planned by the Town of Taos and its partners, including Taos Air, please visit the site linked below.
For more about New Mexico’s MainStreet Program, see their site below.
All images stock files