Three years ago today, I met the Plaza District.
Seeing a posting for a program coordinator position with the Plaza District Association, I sent in my feeble resume only a year and a half out of college. I had an interview the next week. On January 12th, 2008 I drove into Oklahoma City, and honestly thought I had found the Plaza District when I drove through Plaza Court (cue foreshadowing of identity confusion). Realizing this wasn’t the place; I meandered my way over to NW 16th street.
I found the location of the interview, and then took a moment to drive through the district. I fell in love. Empty, recently renovated buildings, Lyric Theatre, and wide sidewalks. It wasn’t a blank canvas…it had a solid sketch.
In the interview, I learned Lyric Theatre had just opened, Estrella Evans had just purchased the salon building, Dylan and Amanda Bradway had just moved in and PhotoArt and the Everything Goes Dance Studio had been in the district at least two years. I saw opportunities for artists, I saw the opportunity for OKC to embrace it’s own diverse culture and most importantly I realized that community was the only way to make this happen.
It was only three years ago, but it seems like ages. Those empty buildings are now full, our sidewalks are full with people on second Fridays, and we have a close-knit community of truly talented and amazing people. That progress is hardly thanks to me, but to the large handful of people who paved the way for the Plaza District, those who chose to open their business here, and those who support these amazing businesses and our events.
When traveling, you’re always attracted to areas and districts. Maybe it’s their benches and lights, the historic buildings, cute restaurants and hip coffee shops…but really what makes those places attractive is the energy behind them. The people behind the counters, the residents who live near, the regular customers hanging around…it all comes down to energy created by community.
Yes, I do happen to have the greatest job in the world. I could write pages on what I do and why I love it, but it would all come back to community. All the money in the world cannot create it, all the strategic planning will not sustain it–it is done through a community of people who have a passion for making a place, a place you want to be.
So, thank you Plaza District. I love helping to make this place, a place you want to be. It has been an amazing three years and I am looking forward to years of Plaza goodness ahead!
Plaza Mom, Executive Director- Kristen Vails
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