Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mayor Leads Way On Brand

Durham Mayor William V. Bell (Bill) continues to set an example for how to embrace the “overarching” brand slogan. Residents are seen turning and nodding to each other as the Mayor, who actively served on the Brand Advisory Committee, extemporaneously adds “Durham really is “Where Great Things Happen” at the end of speeches like he did at two recent dedications, renaming of the Durham Convention Center and opening of the Durham Station Transportation Center.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

One Broken Windows Tactic Can Be An Overarching Strategy

Research conducted by Harvard and Suffolk universities in Lowell MA and reported in the Boston Globe demonstrates yet again that the “Broken Windows” approach to crime reduction works.

The approach put forward in a 1982 Atlantic Monthly piece by James Q. Wilson, a political scientist then at Harvard, and George Kelling, a criminologist now at Rutgers, is a theory that disorderly conditions breed bad behavior and that fixing them can help prevent crime.

Another way to put it is that minor crime creates a sense of lawlessness behind which major criminals feel invulnerable and emboldened.

But this time, the analysis quantifies which of the Broken Windows techniques actually work the best, Is it removing trash, curbing loitering, fixing windows and street lights, securing abandoned buildings, enforcing commercial codes, arresting misdemeanants, or intensifying social services?

The answer, according to the Globe report of the findings, “fixing up the physical environment was very effective, misdemeanor arrests less so and boosting social services apparently had no impact.”

Durham has talked about Broken Windows for more than a decade and dabbled here and there with various elements.

But it seems to me, rather than just deploying it sporadically or in trouble spots, that Durham’s should adopt Broken Windows as an overarching strategy with:

· Intense trash and litter pick up and sweeping
· Intense business and housing code enforcement
· Intense removal or rehab of abandoned buildings and graffiti removal
· Intense fixing of pot holes and better street lights
· Intense repair or upkeep of right a ways, planting and beautification

“Intense” is the operative word because years of cut-backs will need to be restored to even come close to best practice levels. Too often “appearance” is an easy mark for budget cuts because it can be dismissed as “superficial.” But as the research is showing, appearance is a predictor of success in very serious areas.

We’d get better bang for the buck with a multi-outcome strategy that reduces crime, improves property values and increases tax base to pay for itself.

It is all based on the observations that people maintain order when their environment is orderly. When the physical environment looks like no one cares or is in charge, people care less. When it appears the physical environment is well cared for and maintained, negative activities decrease and positive activities increase.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Than Jobs

Duke University isn’t just Durham’s largest employer with more than 30,000 employees. According to a newly published land use study by Durham Public Schools, but Duke has invested more than $1.5 billion in construction over the last 17 years.

Much of that is in the form of visitor features, like Nasher Museum of Art, Duke Sports Hall of Fame, Center for Duke Gardens, expansions to the Washington Duke Inn and the R. David Conference Center and don’t get me started on all that has evolved at Duke University Health System.

It is way too easy to take any large employer for granted. But Duke deserves credit for anchoring Downtown revitalization, Durham’s emergence as a significant visitor destination and our prominence in technology transfer as well as recognition for many of the great things that happen here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

DMAI – AFTA Work Group

There is a memorable line in the Paul Newman movie Cool Hand Luke. Ranked the 11th best movie quote of all time, in a confrontation with prison authorities, his character calls out “what we have here is a failure to communicate.

Problems occasionally arise between DMO’s (destination marketing organizations) and stakeholders and partners when there isn’t a clear understanding of roles and expectations.

Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) has been reaching out to stakeholder counterparts to jointly shape white papers as tools that will give local DMO’s and various stakeholder groups a template for roles and expectations.

Maura Gast, my counterpart in Irving, TX and the current Chair of DMAI, asked me to reach out to a DMAI counterpart to form a joint work group that would tackle shaping a white paper on roles and expectations between Local DMO’s and cultural organizations.

And I’ve found the perfect partner to coordinate the cultural members of the work group, Mary Margaret Schoenfeld with the Americans For The Arts (AFTA). She heads up community development for AFTA and is responsible for building national partnerships and providing technical assistance and content resources for arts-based community and economic development. They also support and develop various councils and interest groups within the organization.

Mary Margaret spent a decade heading up a local arts council so she knows the terrain. She’ll coordinate involvement from the various segments including theaters, museums, etc. Helping us at DMAI will be VP of Membership, Karen Gonzalez.

This may take a year or more but it should be both fun and productive. And the endwork product will hopefully provide guidelines to inform and energize what DMO’s expect of cultural groups and what cultural groups should expect from a DMO.

Stay posted.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Part of Me came to North Carolina 250 Years Ago

For 20 years, I’ve been telling people that when I was recruited to help start a destination marketing organization or community marketing agency in Durham NC, it was my first time in the Southeast, other than stops in Washington D.C. or changing planes in Miami or Atlanta.

But this weekend while doing family genealogy, I learned that isn’t true. Part of my genetic make-up came from North Carolina in the mid 1700’s, maybe earlier. My Great Great Grandmother Amanda Graham’s Great Grandmother Martha Miller in fact was born in Orange County, North Carolina on Christmas Day. I’m not sure how much earlier her father, David Miller, had arrived but he was born in South Carolina.

Now Orange County at that time was one of only a handful of counties in a Colony that covered North Carolina and stretched into what is now Tennessee. Orange County covered a vast part of North Carolina then, everything from Rowan County to Johnston County. So I’m not sure yet, but Durham was part of Orange then and maybe her parents lived here then.

Also, my Great Great Great and Great Great Great Great Grandparents in that same line, James McCrory and Thomas McCrory, emigrated from Northern Ireland in 1775 and settled in North Carolina, one in Guilford and the other in Mecklenburg counties which today are anchored by the cities of Greensboro and Charlotte.

Immediately after arriving Thomas and James volunteered in the Continental Army, Thomas became a captain in the 9th Regiment of the North Carolina Line and James an Ensign and at Valley Forge, a member of George Washington’s life guard. Thomas died in 1779 during the war but I’m not sure where. I just know he fought in battles like Brandywine and Germantown and was buried in Mecklenburg County as was his wife, Hannah Crawford a decade later.

James fought in several battles in North and South Carolina including decisive engagements at Cow Pens and Guilford Courthouse. He later moved to Tennessee and then Tuscaloosa on the far side of Alabama.

So I guess North Carolina is more than my adopted home…it's been my home for many generations… I could be more North Carolinian than many natives.

Monday, February 16, 2009

North Carolina’s Curb Appeal Is At Risk

DCVB has taken a role in litter clean up locally by: identifying it as a community priority, providing support to groups helping to close gaps between agencies, providing surveys results of resident opinions, and researching various best practices. Durham’s curb appeal is definitely related to visitor centered cultural and economic development.

But it is also closely correlated to crime, property values, community engagement and attracting new or relocating employers. But this isn’t just a Durham problem. The 2008 State by State Litter Analysis and Rankings shows North Carolina as a state in the “worst 10.” My worry at the state level is that is a concern for nearly everyone but the mission or core concern for no one. So, just as has happened in Durham, we trim local and state clean up budgets again and again and again

So often we forgot what they need to be because clean up is so easy to dismiss it as “superficial” and no one is outraged but we don’t realize we’re slowly cutting our own throats in areas like crime, lost economic development opportunities, suppressed property values and local tax base.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Partnership Creates New Durham Video

DCVB in partnership with the Duke University School of Law, has adapted a new video to help visitors, newcomers and relocating or expanding businesses make decisions.

The partnership saved DCVB as Durham’s marketing agency, tens of thousands of dollars. No community could ask for a more generous and supportive university. See for yourself.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

DCVB Teams with Blogger on 2010 Historical Calendar

When you produce a calendar, 2010 is just around the corner. At DCVB, we're excited this year because we’re teaming with fellow blogger and developer Gary Kueber. He authors the popular blog “Endangered Durham.” Better jump when the announcement for orders is issued.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Family Cemeteries

I can remember nearly 20 years ago, how obvious Durham’s unique sense of place was when I first visited Durham to be interviewed to be the CEO at the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau.

One of the things that stood out were the large number of family cemeteries along roadsides or tucked away in the woods. It reminded me of the Ora cemetery on our ranch in Eastern Idaho. I used to play there as a boy and imagine the lives of people buried there, many named Bowman and spanning 100 years of history.

There are more than 285 cemeteries in Durham according to the cemetery census the majority tucked away in tree groves throughout the community. There is an alphabetical index of the people buried in these cemeteries and photographs of the location. Great help to families doing genealogy. This map probably demonstrates how prevalent they are to Durham’s sense of place.

The cemeteries give a sense of history, a temporal sense of the people who have called this land home over the years. It ties in as well with other elements of sense of place that revealed Durham’s potential to me as a visitor destination. Things like the small town, walkable feel of Downtown, the incredibly distinct brickwork in the old tobacco factories and warehouses, the historic neighborhoods, the eclectic architecture but true to each district. The older buildings adapted for restaurants, shops, offices, and markets and of course the people, diverse, unpretentious, community spirited, activist.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Can’t be better said than this op-ed by a former Duke graduate, now doing graduate work at Harvard!

Column: How do I love thee, Durham?
By Emily Almas, Duke Chronicle, 05 Feb 2009

There is a T-shirt balled up somewhere in the
back of my closet with a simple slogan: "Durham
Love Yourself." I bought it my sophomore year of
college and promptly wore it home on break, only
to have my mother ask me if it was some coded
double entendre (it isn't-at least as far as I can tell).

The other day, as I trudged through a foot of
snow yet to be cleared from my neighborhood
sidewalks, my thoughts immediately turned to
Durham and that T-shirt. (I'll admit that my
inner monologue ran something along the lines of,
"I bet it's sunny in Durham right now. And warm.
Warm!" Only to get home later, check the weather
report and find out Durham was getting it's annual few inches of snow).

When I arrived in the Bull City in 2002, I knew
very little about the place that I would end up
calling home for the next six years. If I were to
believe the upperclassmen I met that year, Durham
was a boring place, a community that died with
the end of its tobacco industry. How wrong we were.

By the time I grew to love and appreciate Durham
for exactly what it is, it was time for me to
move away. Certainly my love for the City of
Medicine has probably grown this winter as I've
come to appreciate its typically moderate
winters; snow can do a lot for nostalgia. Yet
what I miss most about my old zip code is not the
weather. It's something much more complicated than that.

Durham is interesting.

It has a past-one that is not the kind likely to
be spotlighted in a History Channel special
documentary. Durham's history can be intriguing,
complicated and troubling, but most of all, it's
a rich one. Apparently I'm not the only one who
thinks this way-the city is featured in books
authored by everyone from W.E.B. DuBois to James
Patterson, in movies from "Bull Durham" to "The Handmaid's Tale."

Durham has great food.

It's a place where you can find pupusas (El
Salvador's national dish) at El Cuscatleco, grits
soufflé at Magnolia Grill, and true neighborhood
joints (a la Cheers, but in "real life") like
Elmo's Diner, where the wait staff actually does
know your name. Locally owned LocoPops predated
the gourmet popsicle craze and one can't help but
marvel at the Durham Farmer's Market, which is
not only open year-round but offers artisanal
cheese made just miles away or vegetables grown
in inner-city Durham by urban youth. It is
possible, thanks to Durham's numerous barbeque
joints, to try out the numerous local options
until one finds a favorite (this option is
probably not endorsed by cardiologists). Believe
the hype from places like Gourmet magazine that
the food scene is ridiculously good.

Durham blogs.

The city's got an amazingly strong Internet
community, where it's easy to feel like a part of
the conversation about what's really happening in
Durham. So the City Council debating ordinances
over how many chickens residents can keep in a
backyard might not stimulate you, but you're
bound to get into a discussion about something
that piques your interest. Is the new public art
installation downtown innovative or light
pollution? Where's the best cheeseburger in town?
What up-and-coming band is playing at Duke
tonight? People in Durham blog because they care about this city.

Culture happens in Durham.

The American Dance Festival, Full Frame
Documentary Film Festival, the World Beer
Festival, the Bull Durham Blues Festival, the
North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, A
Taste of Durham, Festival for the Eno. Need I say more?

People connect.

One of the greatest things, if perhaps not the
greatest, about Durham is the way people are
willing to connect with each other. If you've
ever sat at the communal tables on the patio of a
place like The Federal on Main Street, you can
see this first-hand. There are the greasy-haired
graduate students with fishnet stockings who will
hammer out the wins at Pub Quiz and the local
guys in old baseball hats who are Durham
born-and-bred. It is possible to soak in
discussions about Freud and French fries and
Ultimate Frisbee and meet people from Baltimore
and Beijing, to alternate between drinking
authentically Southern sweet tea and imported
Belgian ale. These connections happen
symbolically too: I love the way that a meal at
the locally owned Watts Grocery might bring
together the products of a nearby
fourth-generation farmer and deliver them on a
plate to a student from Manhattan or a new resident from Omaha.

It's not that these things don't necessarily
exist in other communities around the country or
the globe. There are plenty of wonderful cities
that have more accomplished museums, top-billed
restaurants, events, athletic teams-you name it.
It's just that in Durham they happen in a way
that is disarmingly unpretentious. There are no
velvet ropes, no red carpets. It is surprisingly
easy to live a full and abundant life, well
connected to a greater community of people who
are interesting and passionate about something.

Perhaps this last point speaks to something else.
Although I love Durham, I'm not sure I'll be
returning to live there any time soon. There are
other cities to explore, new jobs and cuisines
and people to try to fall in love with in the
mean time (not to mention new weather). I think
that this is also part of Durham's appeal. It's
the kind of place where, no matter how long
you've been away, the city always seems to
welcome you on your return. Durham, whether you
want it or not, can be your adopted hometown,
regardless of where you're originally from-and
with a place like Durham to call home, what more do you need?

Emily Almas, Trinity '06, was the editor of
Towerview in 2005. She is pursuing a graduate
degree in higher education at Harvard University.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Great Move by New Commerce Secretary

Governor Perdue’s new Commerce Secretary, Keith Crisco, made a great move when he elevated the Director of Tourism, Lynn Minges to “Assistant Secretary of Tourism Marketing & Global Branding.”

Both Secretary Crisco and Ms. Minges grasp that just as DCVB is the marketing agency for Durham, the State tourism effort should be guiding the overall branding for the state, regardless of what type of economic development is involved.

The goal, as it was here when DCVB took lead to fund and facilitate an “overarching” Durham brand is to make all messengers more consistent and effective. It is honed from deeply-held resident perceptions to resonate with the external customers most likely to live, visit, study, seek wellness, relocate, and conduct business in Durham.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

RTP – Unsung Pioneers – Forgotten History

Historical summaries are distillations by nature. Also natural is that the individuals who incubate an idea are often forgotten as stories are told and retold.

On the 50th anniversary of Research Triangle Park, here are 5 unsung, mostly overlooked, but indispensible pioneers of this namesake for NC’s Research Triangle Region:

  • Howard W. Odum – Dr. Odum headed the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1920 until his death in 1954. He authored the idea for the Park to leverage three major research universities and promoted it to State officials. He even identified the location "near RDU Airport." The Park is located today in a part of Durham, two miles from the airport.

  • Governor William Umstead – The Durham native and former U.S. Congressman and Senator served only two years before his death in 1954, but his administration was receptive to Odum’s idea and empowered commerce officials to pursue it. Lt. Governor Luther Hodges, filling the remainder of Umstead’s term, brought the concept to fruition. (Romeo Guest, a Greensboro resident and frequent visitor to State commerce offices coined the term "Research Triangle.")

  • Harriet Laura Herring – An associate of Dr. Odum since 1925, Herring rewrote the book on NC economic development in 1945, was tapped by Umstead to head a commission to, in part, reinvent state economic development, and co-authored with another Odum student, George Simpson, a paper on sub-regional collaborations (such as RTP). Simpson became first executive director of RTP.

  • George Watts Hill – A Durham native, successful banker and UNC-CH benefactor would have obviously known Odum. Each had prize-winning, dairy livestock as an avocation; Hill with Guernsey’s and Odum with Jersey’s. Hill also helped bail out Pinelands, the private real estate arm of RTP, and helped assemble lands in Southeast Durham to base the Park.

  • Durham, NC – RTP is carved into Durham pinelands just 4 miles from Downtown and encompassed by the City of Durham in a special Durham County research and production district midway between Chapel Hill and Raleigh (two towns, Morrisville and Cary lie between the Park and Raleigh.) Durham ran the utilities to the park and subsidizes the namesake for the region by not collecting city taxes in return. RTP, NC 27709 is a vanity Durham postal substation.

    While a small portion now spills into a similar Wake County district near Cary and Morrisville, George Simpson, the first director of RTP, wrote:

    "Durham’s citizens have moved the Park forward with vision, leadership, and support. One cannot talk of the Park’s early days without recognizing Durham business leader, George Watts Hill. Other partners have been important…but the relationship with the City of Durham has always been special…"