Today I’m excited to share a little bit of news that I’ve been keeping under my hat for a month or so regarding an exciting endeavour that RUE will be undertaking this year in partnership with another Regina organization. But, before I spill all the beans, some context.
As many of you remember, last semester RUE hosted a student blogger through the U of R’s Community Service Learning program (put on by the Community Research Unit). During the semester, Taouba Khelifa wrote posts for us as part of her course on Food, Hunger, and Social Justice. We really enjoyed working with the U of R, and it was great to have a student perspective represented on the site.
In mid-November following that project, RUE was invited to participate in the Community Research Unit’s ArtCARES program during the winter 2011 semester. ArtCARES matches students up with community partners over reading week to put in 15 hours of concentrated volunteer time on a specific project. The focus is to get students out in the community interacting with people and participating in projects with local relevance. How could we say no to that!?
So we asked you, our readers, what topics or projects you’d like to see RUE explore. Lots of great ideas were presented (mapping of community resources, imagining future options for Regina’s transit system) and we’ll try our best to get to these ideas over time. However, we were also approached by the Regina Downtown BID to see if we wanted to partner up on a project related to the downtown.
As regular readers will know, we here at RUE often talk about issues related to the downtown and ways to keep improving it – so the partnership is a natural fit. And since I am not currently in Saskatchewan, and therefore can’t offer a physical space for students to meet and work, it works out well to have a locally based partner. I had a great time chatting with Judith Veresuk and Lesley Hindle, Executive Director and Manager of Planning and Development for Regina Downtown BID respectively, about the possibilities for student projects.
We settled on a topic that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: how to put vacant storefront space in Regina’s downtown to better use. During reading week, our student volunteers will have the chance to meet with a few property owners and visit some empty storefront spaces. They will then be set to work brainstorming and dreaming up what these spaces could be – they’ll research projects and programs in other cities, and see what models might work for each specific space.
At the end of the week, the students will share their findings and thoughts with the business owners and the BID, creating momentum moving forward. Their work will also be posted here for the RUE community to discuss. I’m super excited about the project and I know when the time comes you’ll be your awesome RUE-reader selves and provide thoughtful feedback on the project!
Speaking of which, what would you like to see in vacant storefront spaces downtown? Let us know!
** photos by L. Pfeifer: Unused store space on Rose Street in downtown Regina and detail of entryway