Ed: Fresno. Some people love it. Some people hate it. And there is a whole lot of feelings in-between. Myself, I love Fresno enough to contribute to a podcast that celebrates culture and events in Fresno. I would say there is a growing group of people in Fresno that are trying to actively change the culture here. Some of that has happened on the internet. A Facebook group was started to celebrate Fresno. Some bloggers ran more posts about Fresno people, places and things that they liked. And, a whole new blog popped up entirely to document an element of Fresno love every day (31daysoffresno.blogspot.com). With all this celebrating, it might seem like people are just ignoring the problems of the city. We have crime, we have low levels of education, we have job loss. That is all true. And in some ways, those things will always be a part of our city. But we want to do what we can to lessen their impact. It may take time, and a lot of work, but it can happen. What do I really like about Fresno? I like that there is opportunity. There are spaces available for those that are willing to risk big and start their own businesses. There are chances to be involved in a growing, vibrant arts community. The performing arts scene is growing in all sorts of directions with venues opening or being better utilized, the Rogue festival continuing, and other elements. And then there are things that happen worldwide that are coming to Fresno. Creative Fresno brought Pecha Kucha to Fresno (http://www.pecha-kucha.org/night/fresno) and has held five standing room only events over the last year. Adam, you and I have helped to bring in the idea of Pub Quiz to Fresno. Why did we do that? Well, we love trivia and we love Fresno and want fun things to do on a weeknight. We saw the opening and stepped up. Fresno offers that opportunity. And, Fresno is the where popping evolved! Who else can claim that? What are loving about Fresno right now? Wait, I'm assuming you love Fresno. Do you?
Adam: Well, of course I love Fresno! And the people that truly love and own their city are the ones who will be able to effect the most change. To take pub quiz for example, you and I both caught onto the idea from other places and thought it would be fun; that there might be a market for it in our neighborhood. But what helped us realize that idea were our connections and associations. We had made friends with the owners, managers, and service staff at the restaurant/bar long before we broached the idea of pub quiz. And we had close friends that were also tied into that network who offered their help and expertise. Becoming a participating member of the community will take you a long way (not all the way, but a good portion of the way) to success.
And that's what I see happening with those other things you mentioned. These aren't outsiders coming in and starting up successful ventures. These are members of Fresno who love Fresno and want Fresno to be awesome whether it be through Pecha Kucha or Rogue or Art Hop or whatever.
My theory for why Granite Park failed is that the community wasn't connected with enough. Those who started up that project thought that they could just plunk down and it would work. What do you think, Ed?
Ed: Ooh, Granite Park is an interesting failure. I mean, it’s an extremely complicated failure, but as far as I can tell, it was a local developer that thought he could make things happen. Maybe his heart and wallet were in the right place, but maybe the vision, the groundswell behind the project wasn’t there. Or, maybe there weren’t the “right” connections. Some developments seem to work very easily while others get bogged down. Cynical me sees the “good old boy” network of developers that helped sink the Fulton Mall, or were involved in Operation Rezone making it while others can’t get off the ground. Or maybe I’m naïve to who the power players are. And, as much as we had connections to people doing it elsewhere and willing to help or our connections to people at the venue, we also had a lot of great online connections that helped to blog, text, tweet and facebook about what we’re doing. This is another thing I do love about Fresno right now: if you can get your interesting idea into the right hands they’ll help you make it work. And I see that happening with design studios, web design businesses, and even food networks.
Let me sum up what I think we’re both saying. We enjoy Fresno. We enjoy many of the connections Fresno has to offer. We know it’s not perfect, and it hasn’t had a perfect history. But, in Fresno we see a city poised to really take off. We are creating a better Fresno, a history we will be proud of.
--if you're interested, you can read an article i (ed) wrote up about our pub quiz endeavor over here.