I got an inside look last week at a community-imaging campaign hosted by the Gig Harbor Historic Waterfront Association.
More than likely, the association will change its name in the near future based on a collection of comments and a series of recommendations as presented by consultants from South Carolina. But that wasn’t the exciting part.
The project was so unique because it involved many different stakeholders, from downtown to Uptown to health care and Gig Harbor North.
Mary DesMarais, the executive director of the GHHWA, and Gary Glein, the president of the organization’s board of directors, wanted input from people who are involved in all walks of life. Their connection, of course, is the town in which we live, work and play.
The question: How can we take a more unified approach to the image we present to visitors and ourselves?
The GHHWA sponsored the consultation along with support from the City of Gig Harbor, the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce, the Uptown Gig Harbor Shopping Center and Harbor Hill.
A series of roundtable workshops were held Wednesday and Thursday to gather input from nearly 80 community leaders. Each session had a different focus: Leadership perspectives, marine and maritime, residents, young adults, business owners, plus tourism, the one I attended at the Harbor History Museum.
The consultants, Tripp Muldrow and Hannah Nichols, specialize in downtown revitalization efforts, although they complimented Gig Harbor because the city and others already put together some outstanding marketing campaigns to get “heads in beds.”
Instead, the focus of the procedure was to help shape a community experience.
“If you’re not telling a story, it’s like throwing a party without invitations,” Muldrow told the group.
Yes, we have a beautiful waterfront that naturally draws people to the area. We have our lingo, such as “the mountain is out.” And our parks — particularly Kopachuck, provided the state can keep it open — are second to none.
Once the information was gathered, the consultants spent Friday afternoon at Arabella’s Landing, revealing to 50 residents what they came up with: A suggested organization name change from the Gig Harbor Historic Waterfront Association to the Downtown Waterfront Alliance, with a tagline — “Tied to the Water.”
They also read a branding statement that describes the area’s history, its stunning attributes of the waterfront, the natural resources that surround the town and the efforts to which we go to enjoy our home with festivals and events.
The group responded with a spontaneous ovation.
And while that’s nice — we all believe we’re part of the best-kept secret in the country — the best part was the broad range of involvement.
The community did it together.
Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 253-358-4150 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_brian.