Past DSI President, Mark Tomaw Retires After 42 Years.

Monday morning will be a little different for past DSI president, Mark Tomaw. After 42 years at RSM, Mark will be retiring. He spent his entire career just off the Old State Capitol Plaza, with office locations in the PNC building and the eponymous building where Innovate Springfield resides currently. He head up several programs & events and served countless volunteer hours with a dream of making Downtown what it was when he began working in the 70’s.

He kindly lent me a few minutes of his last week (still filled with work travel & meetings until the very end) and we discussed the changes he’s noticed in our neighborhood over the years. His stories are plentiful and familiar as he shared memories of loss and re-growth.

What was downtown like when you began your career here?

It was a lot different back then, there was a lot more people working downtown… a more sense of vibrancy than we have seen in recent years. I can still remember, in the summer, if you went out on the Plaza, people were just lined up along the Old Capitol fence sitting and eating lunch and just spending time. The number of employees filled up our entire neighborhood. You had CIPS in the Illinois Building, the banks were multi-level, not to mention the state agencies that were downtown that aren’t anymore. So… big difference there.

 

What year were you President of DSI?

Awww… you would ask that! I believe it was ’06/’07. RSM initially began a relationship with DSI by doing their payroll taxes. I think the executive director at the time asked if I would consider joining the board. Then, at some point, I was treasurer, and then cycled through. I followed Cindy Davis. I think I was the 7th president.

 

What issues were you working on as a board at that time?

You’re talking 10 years ago now… so… [laughs]. To some extent, the issues were similar. Continuing to try to fill empty space, to try to promote downtown, maintain the historical integrity but promote the economic vibrancy. Early on, before I was president, I know that one of the first big issues that came up was the space at the corner of 5th & Adams, where Driftwood was. It was known as the K-mart building, because when I came down, it was a K-mart. It was empty and deteriorating and there were concerns because it was so prominent off the plaza. We needed someone to renovate it. That ultimately got done, but it was the catalyst for DSI to determine that we need a charitable organization that would be in a position where an owner of a building could donate a building, get a charitable deduction and then could use that to facilitate to get the property in the hands of a developer. That’s how the Heritage Foundation came about. It was very active for several years.

We started the Taste of Downtown, which ultimately became the Blues & BBQ (which is now run by Barry Friedman). The Farmer’s Market began when I was on the board as well.

I can remember some really tight times when I was treasurer. We got lucky when the weather was nice and we could get our head’s above water with the fundraising.

 

What do you think we need to do as a community to improve our downtown?

If I had that answer, I would have been bringing that up a long time ago [laughs]. I continue to think that we have to foster a good relationship without the City. I just think that the type of organization that DSI is… it cannot reach it’s potential with that support. That’s a challenge, because the City faces it’s own issues from a financing standpoint. Beyond that, I’m honestly not sure I have a good answer. Once you get people down here, there are wonderful restaurants and shops… we just need to get them here.

 

From your experience, where do you see it going from here?

Obviously, I want to see it more vibrant than it is. The nightlife is much more than it was when I first started. There are so many restaurants and music. We also have so many more downtown residents… I want to see that continue to grow.

 

After 42 years working in the same location, what is your favorite place…

to have lunch? Of all the years, definitely Cafe Moxo

to have a drink after work? I know what it was 40 years ago… there was a little place just south of Capitol called Midway Pub. It’s an empty lot now.

to shop? I never did much shopping… ask my wife [laughs].

 

So, what now?

“We’ll travel a bit. I’m thinking I’ll just see how it goes… I don’t want to be too busy”, he says with an sly smile.

Opening Minds Through Art

SIU School of Medicine and the Springfield Art Association are teaming up to bring you an incredibly special art reception this Friday evening at the SAA Collective Gallery in the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

Opening Minds through Art (OMA) is an award-winning, evidence-based, intergenerational art-making program for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of neurocognitive disorders. Its failure-free program provides opportunities for creative self-expression and social engagement for people with dementia. OMA also provides volunteers with opportunities to improve their attitudes toward aging through the weekly interaction with OMA program participants. The goal is to help create a society that values older adults with dementia. This program achieves this by building genuine friendships between people with dementia and volunteers as they engage in art-making.

Volunteers have been working with dementia patients once a week at the Springfield Art Association since the beginning of April. Before artists are matched up with patients, they are prepped with background information such as the participants interests, family members names, favorite colors, and of course health background. The patient works with the same artist every week to bring comfort and familiarity. Together they learn and create artwork, while developing a friendship.

Each participants creations will be on display at the SAA Collective Gallery June 8th & 9th.  Be sure to stop by and show support for these amazing people!

JOIN US (FREE TO ATTEND) ON
JUNE 8, 2018, 5:30 – 7PM
AT SAA Collective
420 South 6th Street
Springfield, IL 62701

Featured Artists Names:

Gail Record

Jean Kienzler

Ginny (Virginia) Reiser

Jean Staab

Tricia Balli

Don Elam

Nadine Hughes

Joe(Bobo) Beneky

Carita Gehlhausen

Mike Akins

Shirley Kane

Marybeth Zietz

OMA is supported by an Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative-Specialized Supportive Services (ADI-SSS) Project grant from the Administration for Community Living through the Illinois Department on Aging, as well as a grant made by the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln King’s Daughters Organization Blackstock Fund to the SIU School of Medicine, Center for Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Disorders www.siumed.edu/alz.

New Business to Downtown is a Perfect Capture

A big welcome to one of Downtown’s newest business, Paparazzi Peggi Photography!!

Peggi Trees Gant is the owner and photographer of Paparazzi Peggi Photography and if you haven’t had a chance to meet her, you’re missing out! She has a personality that literally lights up the room and she can make you feel so good about yourself just by saying hello!

She is a long time local and has done work for political parties, proms, weddings, downtown events, and has been featured in Springfield Scene Magazine. She’s an amazing mother to three wonderful children and loves her family! She says that “starting small, staying consistent, and being available to her clientele” has made her business what it is today. She’s most excited to see what avenues having a studio will bring to her. You can typically find her shooting downtown for this season’s prom pictures, capturing our great neighborhood during events, or at her new studio at 427 E. Monroe!

Welcome to the Downtown Family, Peggi! We’re so excited to have your spirit!

Part II of III: Sustainability In Downtown Springfield

Last week, we met with Michael Higgins and learned about his approach with “doing the we best we can.” Our food system is a big part of our environment. Eating local and buying from small farmers are all  part of lessening our carbon footprint while contributing to our local economies.

Leah Wilson, new Executive Director and Rachael Thomson, founder and board president of the Kidzeum.

This week, we’re meeting with Rachael Thomson (Board President) and Leah Wilson (Executive Director) of the Kidzeum Health and Science Children’s Museum.

Rachael and Leah believe that sustainability starts with the young future leaders of the world. Starting in 2004, the concept of the Kidzeum was born to bring awareness to childhood health and obesity while teaching concepts of environmental stewardship. Not only are they using an already existing building as the home of the Kidzeum, but they are also creating ways to be more energy efficient. Efficiency measures include all LED lights, doing as much as they possibly can through digital outlets, having all mechanical and electrical systems meet the current energy code, and using photocell sensors near windows, just to list a few. Leah says staff will be very conscious of their own individual carbon footprints too.

The Kidzeum will have many exhibits that promote conservation and sustainability includng a Farm to Market Gallery that teaches visitors the story of seed through plant cycle, harvest, storage, processing and distribution in efforts to promote buying local and reducing carbon footprints. Another exhibit will teach children how to reduce their own carbon footprints in their own homes.

Leah says that sustainability is a “contact-sport” where the best way to learn is to let kids get their hands into things. Rachael and Leah feel that through education, we can help better serve the planet. Rachael states, “Kids are mold-able and will be inheriting the mess that older generations are leaving behind.” To change the paradigm in which we live, we need to start young in education and teach “reduce and reuse” as something that IS the status quo.

Often in the realm of sustainability, it’s easy to lose hope. But, having just one meeting with Rachael and Leah reignites that hope for the future! We cannot wait to bring this museum to life!!

Follow the Kidzeum on Facebook to stay up to date on all of the progess!

*This sustainability blog post is the Second of a three part series about how Downtown Springfield organizations contribute to sustainability initiatives.*

Part I of III: Sustainability in Downtown Springfield

Ice caps are melting, our population is growing, and our winters are getting longer. So, what does that mean for our farm-dependent state?  In Illinois, our farmers depend on the land and climate to work together so that they, as growers, can yield bountiful crops.

Often, we are left overwhelmed as to what we can do to help the earth. From recycling, eating and shopping local, to turning the lights off when you leave a room, sustainability starts small and at the heart. Downtown Springfield, Inc. interviewed three of our business owners regarding their efforts to make Springfield sustainable, delving deep to showcase what makes them unique.

Michael Higgins, owner and chef of Maldaner’s Restaurant, says that buying from small farmers and eating organic is the way to go. Coming from California, one thing Higgins wanted to do when he arrived in Central Illinois was to bring more variety to Springfield. He noticed that the Midwest grew really great tomatoes, but unfortunately only one species seemed to exist. By working with local farmers and by providing them with seed, Higgins was able to add to the Midwest variety. Then in the late ’80’s, Higgins began offering organic chicken to his customers by working with farmers he met at the Illinois Product Show. One can see the pride in Higgins’ eyes as he speaks of the bond between the consumer and farmer. “It’s 100% trust,” he states. Small Farmers, away from agri-business, “ARE small businesses and we need to remember that,” Higgins says.

We are trusting these farmers to feed us with incredible food that provide us with the nutrients we need and at the same time, they are trusting us to understand that where we buy from is important.  Buying from farmers markets and your local or small farm not only helps them but helps our community, and helps our planet. We asked Higgins what he thought was the best solution to feeding our growing population while sustaining our planet and he had the best answer: “Do the best you can.”

How does buying organic help the planet? 

Organic farming is less intensive on our landscapes causing less erosion to our soil compositions. While it does often require more land in general, the amount of pesticides and herbicides are far less than conventional commodity farming — meaning less chemical run-off to our water systems and airways. While too much demand on small farms can do harm by exploiting them, the good news it that more and more “big business” farmers are transitioning to organic due to the consumer demand!

Like Chef Higgins says, all we can do is try our best. Try our best to educate ourselves as to what is harmful to ourselves, others, and the planet. While remembering that even the smallest act is helping and that if we all did one small act, like buying local, those many small acts add up to a pretty big one!

Stay tuned for next weeks’ sustainable highlight when we meet with new Director Leah Wilson and founding Board President Rachael Thomson of the Kidzeum Health and Science Children’s Museum.

*This sustainability blog post is the first of a three part series about how Downtown Springfield organizations contribute to sustainability initiatives.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illinois Bicentennial Essay + Art Contest

DEADLINE: MAY 2, 2018

TOPICS OF CHOICE BY GRADE LEVEL:

For further detail of each topic please click above.

ELIGIBILITY
Bicentennial essay and art contests are open to students who attend a school in Sangamon County. Individual contest descriptions may limit the age and/or grade of eligibility based on selected topic or sponsor request. Immediate family members of board members of the Illinois Bicentennial Coordinating Committee of Springfield (IBCC of Springfield) or of the sponsoring organizations for individual contests are not eligible to participate. Void where prohibited by law.

SUBMISSIONS SENT TO:
SPRINGFIELD ART ASSOCIATION. 700 N. 4TH STREET, SPRINGFIELD. IL 62702

JUDGING
The winner of the Contest will be determined by judging all the entrants’ submissions based on the criteria established by contest sponsors. All entries to an individual contest will be judged using the criteria listed on the contest description. Judges will be selected by the IBCC of Springfield, but will not include members of the Board of Directors. The decision of the judges is final and binding on all matters relating to this contest.

PRIZES
There will be first, second and third place winners for each contest. Prizes will be different for each individual contest – review the contest description for complete information. All taxes, if any, are the responsibility of the winners or their guardians. The IBCC of Springfield will not be responsible for any loss, liability or damage arising out of any winner’s acceptance or use of the prize. All prizes are guaranteed to be awarded.

Selection of Winners: Winners will be selected within 30 days of the contest deadline date and notified by email. Return of prize or prize notification as undeliverable will result in disqualification and an alternate winner may be selected. Entry and/or acceptance of prize(s) constitutes permission for the IBCC of Springfield to use the winner’s contest entry, name and/or likeness for advertising and trade purposes without further compensation or authorization, worldwide and in perpetuity, in any and all forms of media, now known and hereafter devised, unless prohibited by law.

CONDITIONS
The IBCC of Springfield is not responsible for lost, late, misdirected or illegible entries, lost connections, miscommunications, failed computer or telephone transmissions, other technical difficulties or failures. The IBCC of Springfield is not responsible for any damage to user’s computer system from downloading/uploading any information necessary to participate in the contest or other technical difficulties or errors of any kind. Limit one entry per person. All entries become the property of the IBCC of Springfield and will not be returned.

The IBCC of Springfield reserves the right to terminate or modify this contest at any time for any reason. In this event, winners will be selected based on entries received to date of termination.
If you wish to receive a list of prize winners or have any questions about the Contest, specify your request and write to: IBCC of Springfield, P.O. Box 9108, Springfield, IL 62791-9108.

DSI Seeks Program & Event Manager

JOB TITLE: PROGRAM & EVENTS MANAGER
Download this information as a document>
Applications close: April 6, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.
Responsible to: Executive Director
Status: Full Time (40 hours per week)
Hours: Regular full-time, with occasional evenings and weekends
Benefits: Package to be negotiated
Compensation: $35,000 – 45,000, depending on experience

ABOUT DOWNTOWN SPRINGFIELD INC
Downtown Springfield, Inc. (“DSI”) is a 501(c)6 business association and Main Street organization working to increase economic and cultural vitality in historic downtown Springfield. DSI is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018. Our current issue areas are Vitality, Vacancies, Volume and Vision.

SUMMARY OF POSITION
The Program and Events Manager develops and implements fundable programs and events that increase foot traffic in the downtown district. S/he should bring a strong existing network of relationships to DSI and be fearless in seeking partnerships and support for revitalization efforts. The Manager is a leadership position that requires savvy and creativity to work with our many stakeholders and help increase our district’s brand recognition as a cutting edge, entrepreneurial, fun and fabulous, growing district.

DESIRED CHARACTERISTICS
• Experience in the non-profit sector
• Track record of developing and building financial and moral support for new programs
• Experience in event management
• Understanding of neighborhood business districts
• Skilled in public speaking, community outreach and effective networking
• Entrepreneurial spirit and love for urban revitalization

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES
• Program and Service Delivery — Designs, markets, promotes, and delivers high quality programs that help to revitalize downtown. Finds and secures funding for programs.
• Council Guidance & Support — Provides staff support to various committees assisting with program delivery.
• Event Management — Effectively produces DSI events and activities utilizing our volunteer network.
• Community and Public Relations — Works alongside Executive Director to effectively communicate on behalf of the organization and the downtown district.
• Other Duties as Assigned — Other specific administrative and promotion-related duties as defined by the Executive Director.

QUALIFICATIONS
• Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent experience
• Experience in non-profit or government sector
• Technology savvy
• Demonstrated ability to work effectively with a variety of constituents and personality types

PREFERRED
• Experience in community development organization, chamber or retailers organization
• Previous events management experience
• Previous membership organization experience

CANDIDATE SUBMISSION PROCESS
Prior to April 6, 2018 at 5:00 p.m., qualified and interested candidates are invited to mail or email your resume and a cover letter addressing why this position aligns with your experiences, skills, professional goals and personal passions, with “Program and Event Manager Search” as the Subject, to: Lisa Clemmons Stott, Executive Director, Downtown Springfield, Inc., 3 W Old State Capitol Plaza, Suite 15, Springfield, IL 62701 or lisa@downtownspringfield.org. Our timetable is to have the selected candidate start on May 1.

Play Bocce Ball Downtown

Spring time is everyone’s favorite season, especially us at Downtown Springfield, Inc. And we have some good news about everyone’s favorite activity! The gate is now open to join the Obed and Isaac’s Bocce Ball League!

I think I speak for all of us when I say, we all love sitting in the beer garden on a warm sunny day with a beer in hand, with good company, and fun games to play.

The best part? It’s so easy to join the Bocce Ball League. Just Email with the following information:

– Team Name & Captain
– Preferred League Day (SundayMonday or Tuesday)
– Captain phone & email address
– Interested in becoming a paid referee?
 Who says we can’t all feel like we’re true Italian’s playing a game of Bocce in one of the best hang out spots of the Spring, right here in Downtown Springfield!
 (P.S. fun fact: Bocce Ball originated from Ancient games played in the Roman Empire)

 

Some Shops with V-Day On Their Minds

2018 Vintage Love Tour at 9 Locations
Self-guided tour of girlfriends and glorious finds on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 10 am – 4 pm

Studio on Sixth at 215 S Sixth
The first 35 customers get an adorable metal heart magnet for free on Saturday, February 10.

Yoga7even at 605 E Washington
February We❤U Sale – Enjoy 1 week unlimited Yoga $15 for the month of February!

Incredibly Delicious at 925 S 7th
February 13 Mardi Gras menu, King Cake, and Lemon Shake Up Cake
February 13 Attending Secret Recipes’ tasting event at the Governors Ballroom at the State House Inn with cake samples
February 14 “Love in Paris” Lunch giveaway for 2 plus brunch items with a featured menu with special valentine desserts
February 17-18th Paired desserts with Danenberger Family Vineyards for National Wine Day

Springfield Clock Shop at 629 E Washington
These beautiful clocks are on sale

The Land of Lincoln Barbershop Chorus headquartered in the Hoogland
The Chorus is once again offering their singing valentines! Order a singing valentine or get more information

Recycled Records at 625 E Adams
The entire month of February is their 38th annual Record Riot. Everything in the store is on sale up to 50% off. $2.00 LP’s are $1.00, used CD’s and DVD’s are buy two get one free, video games and systems, stereo equipment, beer signs, antiques, jewelry ALL on sale

Willow & Birch Salon at 521 E Washington
Check out their Who Do You Love? Facebook Contest, where you can tag those you love to be entered to win in weekly giveaways happening every Friday and then be entered to win a $100 gift certificate to our boutique on Valentine’s Day.

You can also stop by and kiss a card to be entered to win a gift set of their fave lip products! Simply stop in, try on a lip, and then give your best smooch (to paper) to be entered to win.

Itty Bitty Fashion Trunk at 403 E Adams
Grab your best gals and head down to the shop on Feb. 10 from 10a-5p, as they celebrate Galentines Day! Enjoy 10% off the entire store, refreshments and enter to win a $50 IBFT gift card.

VELE at 524 E Monroe
February 14 – A Night Under the Nordic Lights delectable 7-course Nordic-inspired tasting menu complete with complimentary sparkling wine and a little gift to take home. Seating at 5:45pm or 8:00pm. $85 per person (gratuity not included). Reservations

DSI Seeks Marketing Support

Downtown Springfield, Inc. (DSI) has initiated a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to identify a vendor, agency, consortium or contract employee (Agent) who is/are qualified to provide day-to-day marketing services showcasing Downtown Springfield as a growing, vibrant neighborhood & business district.
The duties require an Agent who has demonstrated experience in multimedia content creation and distribution. Agent will work closely with the DSI Executive Director and Promotions Committee to plan and execute marketing activities for the association.

Download the Request for Proposals for Marketing Services 2018

Timeline
Request for Proposal Released – January 11, 2018
Questions Due – January 29, 2018
Proposals Due – Friday, February 2, 2018 by 5 pm
Interview Period – February 7-9, 2018
Planned Contract Award Date – February 12, 2018

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