Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Church & Place-making

It bugs me to travel past Eastminster Church in Belleville. It isn't because of what they are doing wrong, but what they are doing right. For the past few months a scrolling LED sign at the corner of Herchimer and Bridge streets has been announcing everything going on for the congregation. Yes, there are a couple of signs at Bridge St., but one is tucked behind a tree and the other is on the side of the building rather than out where passersby will see it. I feel that our imposing and beautiful edifice is strangely invisible, or least not as visible as I would like.

We have been in the downtown of Belleville for roughly 130 years in this building, and even longer with the edifice before it which was destroyed by fire. But what is our sense of place?

I really like this "place-making" project in Chicago:

Construction starts Monday to create the Lincoln Hub, which will include wooden planters and benches, along with a sidewalk polka-dot art installation inspired by Oriental rug designs. It will take about a month to extend street curbs and install the other elements of the project, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for May."We want the public space on Lincoln Avenue to foster more of a sense of community, rather than a path people use to get somewhere else," said Lee Crandell, director of the West Lakeview Special Service Area program, which works out of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce. The chamber began working on plans to create the Lincoln Hub in late 2013.

The public was invited to comment during two open houses or through online surveys.
"Residents overwhelmingly wanted this sense of a town square, a central hub. Businesses wanted traffic calming, they want people to notice their businesses and creating more of a pedestrian feeling," Crandell said.

Obviously the congregation in the rather traditional looking church building are willing participants in this project. This is more than signage saying "over here!" It is an invitation to include the church in the neighbourhood.

What do you think of this, regardless of whether you are a fan of polka dots? Why do we tend to be so conservative about letting others know we are in the community and what we are about? Is this a reflection of how willing we are to share our Christian faith?

the lincoln crossing


roger said...

I have an even better idea. Why not take a page out of Pizza Pizza's playbook, and have someone in a costume outside the church dancing around and waving people over? Just an idea...

Rob said...

Easy Roger, someone will get the bright idea that the custodian would be great for that job. I'm all for an electronic sign. Just sayin......