Design:SD Kicks Off Downtown Yankton Project

Posted on January 18, 2017

Paula Jensen
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017 10:23 pm
By Shauna Marlette, Yankton Press

“What do you celebrate about downtown Yankton?”

With that simple question, the design:SD Project Downtown Yankton began on Tuesday.

According to Joe Bartmann, the vice president of Programs for Dakota Resources and facilitator of Tuesday’s listening events, the project is focused on helping small rural towns like Yankton shape their future through design.

“Today is really where we press ‘go’ for this whole process,” he said. “These are really small group conversations where we are bringing together different groups of people who have some kind of affinity. We have had a group with human resource directors; we had a group of realtors this morning.”

Dakota Resources is a non-profit based in Renner that works with small communities that want to create a better future and make the place where they live more vibrant and more vital.

“We say that we enrich communities and empower people,” Bartmann said. “We help those communities create change for themselves.”

The design:SD Project Downtown Yankton has been in planning for more than a year, he added.

“Eric Ambrosen (of Onward Yankton), who has been a part of the design:SD team with me in the past and I had a conversation,” Bartmann said. “We had another meeting with others and a year or so later, and here we are. The team decided to select Yankton as the one community they are working with this year.”

The three questions asked during the listening sessions were designed to get people thinking about downtown Yankton.

“We are asking people, what do they love about downtown now? What do they want to see downtown in 5-10 years? What are organizations going to have to do differently to make some of those things happen?” Bartmann said.

The answers, he said, are very similar from one group to the next.

“Each group has something that is a bit different,” Bartmann said. “I think one of the things that we are seeing pop up over and over again is wanting to create more energy and activity on a consistent basis and in a collaborative way. One of the things we are hearing is asking how can the groups and organizations that are organizing those things coordinate a little better? Also, how can we create the kinds of activities and the kinds of experiences that more people in this community might be attracted to?”

He stressed that, in the listening groups he is hearing, there is a core group of the community that shows up and who are dedicated to downtown, and a there may be a lot of people who might not care what happens to downtown.

“What do we need to do so that the whole community will call this home and will love to be here?” Bartmann asked. “We will get more detailed as we go along. Right now, we are more at surface-level ideas and observations. As we go through this process, we will get more and more specific and projects that could make some of those things happen.”

Bartmann said the next date the community needs to be aware of is Feb. 1.

“We will meet at the Avera Pavilion, and everyone is invited,” he said. “Anybody who cares about downtown Yankton should show up for that conversation. We will do some more dreaming. Coming out of that, we will have a good idea of what are the priorities, what are the things that this community cares most about for downtown Yankton. That is all leading up to the big event in April — the three-day design:SD workshop.”

The April workshop will bring design officials from across the state to Yankton to help focus plans for downtown.

“All of this that we are doing today and on Feb. 1 leading up to the April workshop is about giving that design team as deep of an understanding as possible about what this community is like. What makes it tick? What do people here care about? What do people here want? What do people here love?” said Bartmann. “Then we mix (the volunteer designers’) expertise and design experience with those dreams and visions for Yankton. We will come out the other side of that workshop with a set of vision boards that will illustrate the different projects, dreams and visions this community has for downtown.”




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