At our Building Lasting DownTOWN/GOWN Partnerships workshop last Friday part of the discussion in our breakout groups focused on how we can keep the conversation going. With so many great partnerships underway and so many new possibilities, should we hold another workshop on this topic? Should we convene a smaller working group? Is it best just to use social media and keep each other informed that way?

Simsbury residents share their ideas for their community during a charrette.

Simsbury residents share their ideas for their community during a charrette.

Of course, this is always the challenge, not just after we hold one of these always engaging workshops, but whenever we talk about Main Streets and our continually evolving work championing our downtowns. Part of the answer, of course, is all of the above. We need to routinely reach out to our colleagues while seeking new audiences to share ideas and learn from each other.

Part of the answer, however, is listening. This is critical, especially for our member communities, those downtown professionals and municipal staff on the ground, seeking to implement change and manage our communal spaces. Sometimes referred to as “community engagement”, the process of listening to our constituents and customers is critical to a healthy downtown. Inviting residents, visitors and others to provide their feedback is an often invaluable tool for building consensus and creating the type of environment that benefits all users of that space.

At CMSC, we invite comment from our member network on how we can best assist them, from our Downtown Update readers on what they’d like to know (there’s a link at the bottom), and e love when our friends and colleagues share their activities on Facebook, Twitter and more. We know that the best downtowns are able to incorporate many voices, and we look forward to working with you to keep the conversation going on how we can improve ours.