City Placemaking in my DNA

I've become such a community development nerd.

At the invitation of Monte Hilleman, VP of the Saint Paul Port Authority, I spoke at a professional development summit of 350 real estate and development pros. Sponsored by Minnesota Real Estate Journal, it featured speakers included Mayor Melvin Carter, who spoke about his priorities for the city, and Dr. Bill McGuire who spoke about the Allianz Stadium (I liked it when he mentioned that the stadium is all about a global sport for a global city).

Monte asked me to talk about transitions in industrial spaces, in particular about the Creative Enterprise Zone.

As I listened to the speakers who came before me, I thought to myself, what am I doing here? I have no credentials as a real estate pro. It’s one of my most consistent career themes—I specialize in taking on work for which I am untrained, a novice.

I considered the Mayor’s remarks referencing some of the assets of St. Paul including his reminder that people chose to stop at this spot on their journey across the country because of the confluence of the rivers. It made me think about my recent visit to the twin towns of Cedar Falls (where I donated some family artifacts to the local history museum) and Waterloo, IA, where my father grew up.

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Right then and there I found a new way to introduce myself.

I said:

I wonder sometimes how a poet, painter, and storyteller became involved in community real estate and placemaking? Then I remember— I'm the great granddaughter of a city builder, community banker, and title company owner who promoted the city he found himself staying in. He published a pamphlet extolling the city as the Albany of the West. From the 1880s into 1917, he built Waterloo, IA. It’s both a river town and a twin town like my chosen home, Saint Paul.

Now I get to set a vision for the community we want in the CEZ. I love the work and fun of it. And I can't wait for our mural festival, Chroma Zone Fest coming up September 7-14, 2019.

Introducing myself this way anchored me in the ancestry I find in my DNA and my spirit. I hear my great grandparents cheering me onward, following in their community minded footsteps.

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Catherine Reid Day