Friday, February 4, 2011

What is The Downtown Geek?

The term geek is defined many different ways. A quick Internet search yields the following results: (1) A person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest; (2) Anyone paid to do work considered odd or bizarre by mainstream society; (3) The people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult. Well, I couldn't have put it better myself.

Why are downtowns the object of my geek affections? I guess I have my Grandma Sonia to thank for that. I spent my summers on the east side of Detroit with my grandparents. Each day followed the same routine. Grandma Sonia didn't drive, so we walked to the small business district in her neighborhood. We'd start the morning at the counter at Sanders to have breakfast and catch up on the local gossip. Next it was on to S.S. Kresge Five & Dime to see what new treasures and trinkets awaited us. Then Cunningham's Drug Store to pick up her prescriptions. And last, but certainly not least for a growing girl, a stop at Kowalski's for fresh cut ring bologna for my lunch.

This is the stuff of my most vivid childhood memories. To this day, I remember clearly how the stools at Sanders wobbled or squeak of the hinges on the back door at the dime store. But more importantly, I remember the people and how they knew Grandma Sonia and by association, me. That was my first experience being a part of a community. Of being a part of something bigger than myself, like a family. A family made of wonderful shops, great old buildings that creaked when you walked on their floors and the smiling faces that knew my name as if I was their own child or grandchild.

Fast forward to 2011 and here I am working for a downtown. It’s not easy to explain what I do for a living, let alone why I do it. Being a downtown manager for Downtown Rochester, Michigan, people think I’m everything from a glorified secretary to a party planner. As anyone in the field of community development will tell you, every day is different. For me, that’s what makes this job worth waking up for each morning.

So what's the purpose of “The Downtown Geek”? Day in and day out we are inundated with negative stories about the economy. But there are encouraging, positive stories out there, they just need a forum to be heard. And there are no better stories to tell than those that are taking place every day in communities across the country.

I believe The Downtown Geek will be a source for good news, innovative ideas and a different perspective. While I will always be happy to share my two cents, I hope to convince some my fellow downtown geeks to contribute their talents as well. I guarantee to keep it fresh, interesting and heck, maybe even inspiring.

Remember being a geek isn’t a look, it’s a lifestyle.

Kristi Trevarrow
The Downtown Geek

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