In the spring of 2021, Creative Collective was invited to Lawrence to demonstrate new ways to activate downtown storefronts through a Vacant Storefront Activation Program facilitated by MassDevelopment TDI. The strength and creativity of the Lawrence community enticed us to work with a diverse collection group of creators, stakeholders, and community members to imagine the possibilities that lie within these opportune spaces and the areas surrounding them.
The theme and design of each activation were informed by the community and were based on the essentials identified as lacking within the centralized hub that is downtown. The end results of this process were indicative of what the community expressed wanting better access to, and they pinpoint the possibilities of what can be Imagined through a creative economic development lens.
Imagina Essex delivered a program at the cross-section of community, creativity, and economic development led BY and FOR the community. We hosted four main events over the course of the project centered around commerce, food, community, and art – highlighting the best of Lawrence.
We directly engaged just under 500 community members and stakeholders through virtual meetings, volunteer opportunities, event interaction and online surveys.
Additionally, we found that developing and fostering a program such as Imagina Essex within the City of Lawrence required the following in order to deliver on its success and sustainability:
- Cohesive partnership with MassDevelopment TDI and the City of Lawrence
- Extensive collection of community and stakeholder feedback
- Well-resourced and equipped Local Leadership Team
- Volunteer groups ingrained in the community • Catalytic potential of collaborative programming
- Provided a hub for businesses and entrepreneurs to produce and sell
- Supported local artists, makers and members of the creative workforce
- Empowered the community
- Informed and involved local building management and property owners
- Improved the vibrancy and social connectedness of downtown
Links To More Photos
Mass Development TDI
City of Lawrence
• Essex Art Center
• Lawrence CommunityWorks
• Lawrence Redevelopment Authority
• Lawrence Partnership
• Groundwork Lawrence
• Minds With Purpose
• Bread & Roses Festival
• Everett Mills
• Lawrence Festival of the Arts
• City of Lawrence – Mayor’s Health Task Force
• Silverio Insurance
• Estrella Law Offices
• Homeshop Properties
• Cafe Azteca
• El Taller
• Terra Luna