It’s hard to estimate the value of people getting together to have a good time in a struggling city: The parties, the parades, the street festivals.
Sure, some of these events could be measured in economical terms: Track the local commerce on comparable days, and then see what kind of a bump the nearby businesses get when your event happens. Institutions like CSU’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs are deep into this kind of economic impact study.
But nobody spent money when my friend Chick Holtkamp invited rock climbing buddies to climb his brick building in Tremont during last week’s Art Walk. Dozens of people gathered and watched as a range of folks—from very experienced climbers to my 9 year-old daughter—crawled like spider man up the three-story brick structure.
When people talk about that, when they share the memory, they don’t talk about safety or its impact on the local economy. People were climbing up a sheer brick face in the middle of the city. People will talk about because it was interesting. Events like these help neighborhoods as much as commerce does. Lots of people live in cities. They have lots of ideas. That makes cities interesting places to live and be.
The arrival of summer time is sure to bring us more and more original and even goofy invention. I’m having a little more fun than usual this summer because of two events:
First, some friends and local kids are working with me to launch the Edwards Avenue Bucket Drum Corps. We’ve practiced twice. Inspired by the (familiar? defunct?) Andrews Avenue Kazoo Band, the Edwards Avenue Bucket Drum Corps is a loose collection of DIY bangers using 5-gallon buckets and various other recycled containers for allegedly musical purposes. After police were called on our first practice at Edwards Park (apparently lots of people living close together in the city raises noise concerns) we moved practice to a secret, out-of-the-way location. Watch for the Edwards Avenue Bucket Drum Corps to debut in the Lakewood Fourth of July Parade.
A couple weeks later, I plan to launch a super-soaked surprise July 23 during Lakewood Alive’s Streetwalk. It’s goofy. It’s kid-friendly. But I shouldn’t say anymore about that just yet.
What I should say is that I hope anyone who reads this is expecting to have as much fun this summer as I am. If you don’t have a block party in the works, get one started. If you haven’t been to a Tremont Art Walk since the rain stopped, put July 10 on your calendar.
Summer’s here. The rain has stopped. It’s time to have fun. Your city needs it.