Clearlake, California is a city that has a little bit of Rodney Dangerfield syndrome. While it's one of several cities on the shores of Clear Lake, this little city of some 16,000 people has a rather poor reputation. Even among the locals, it's looked down upon and that's by people who live in cities that are often looked down upon by those in areas like San Francisco, Santa Rosa and Sacramento.
But it's time to reevaluate good ol' Clearlake because it would appear that there's a bit of pride stirring in their blood and it's starting to rub off on the city itself. This past Saturday a group of local citizens got together with supplies donated by the local hardware store and repainted a building that is owned by the impoverished city government. The city's plans were to raze the building, which is occupied by a hair salon at present, but financial woes actually prevented that from happening so the building became an eyesore.
Why the local government is competing with private business is another matter and not relevant to this blog, which is about customer service and social networking. Back to community pride.
These local citizens took it upon themselves to spend their weekend sanding and painting and just doing the things a good landlord would do to make their building something to be proud of. This sets a very good standard for the rest of the community and shows what can happen with free-thinking people take hold of a situation. Free-thinking people are always a better solution to anything than those who work in government, but this is also not a political blog.
That being said, the local city council in Clearlake actually voted to turn down and prevent this assistance. No, seriously. Clearlake's council actually held a vote and told these citizens to take their good intentions and go home. Forget the free paint, hours of sanding and the fact that every day they have to look at a blighted building that might even be a symbol of the city itself while a local business suffers in a building that looked terrible.
Fortunately, using social media and traditional media plus the fact that today is election day in Clearlake combined to create a situation where such a wonderful job could take place. The power of social and traditional media can move mountains and even get a really, really bad decision by local government reversed so that a community doesn't look blighted.
But I say take this one step further.
Might I suggest asking local artists to display their wares in the windows?
Having locally-generated art would further the beautification of the property while also showing off the talent that lives in the neighborhood. We're all aware of how today's economic climate has been difficult for retail businesses and landlords alike and using otherwise "dead" window space to show off a community's collective talent might be a good temporary use of this space.
Since this is a common and timely problem throughout the US, such a creative use of these windows would definitely be newsworthy and the community would be able to get some mileage out of such a creative use, drawing tourism to the area. Since tourism is our major product up here, this would solve another problem.
There's no reason to stop with just this building, either. Having a community effort to place the beautiful artwork created locally in otherwise-unused windows would make everything look better while, again, being something "the media" would absolutely eat up.
I would think there would be a big draw from tourists to a community that beautified itself with art while creatively overcoming a problem every community has - retail space that's presently unoccupied. This might also make these otherwise-unoccupied buildings look better to prospective tenants, thereby helping real estate agents.
Using traditional and social media there would be great power in keeping people updated on which local artists are in which windows. A creative blog with integration of Google Maps would be a great way to create interest and promote such a community-wide effort.
Since our economy is presently in the lemon business we might as well make up a big ol' batch of lemonade and open a community-wide stand. And with the power of social media, we could tell the world just how delicious this lemonade is. Not a bad thing for a tourism-driven economy like Clearlake.
Clean Up Story on Lake Co News.