A Collective Pivot

A Collective Pivot Main Photo

10 Aug 2020

Blog, Wine Tasting and Breweries, Things to Do

Written By:
Kelley Dolling 

If we had a theme for 2020, two steps forward . . . twelve back . . . seems fitting. Although our area continues to roll with the punches this year, they just keep coming. While it would be quite easy for so many local business owners to let the negativity consume them, our little community continues to lock arms to find ways to support, encourage, and pivot TOGETHER.

Let’s back it up two weeks as we lay a quick foundation. The latest bar and restaurant lockdowns blindsided our eating and drinking establishments just as they were finding their footing again. With strict guidelines restricting in-house dining, those without established patios found themselves up against the ropes. One might have thought this is where the story ended for many businesses. However, this is where the real magic transpired.

Countless local owners took this hard “lump” and fought back by finding new ways to keep the doors open and establish outdoor options safely. Although all of the business stories warm our hearts, there is one in particular that truly speaks to the power of collaboration.

cedar crest brewingCedar Crest Brewing has become quite the staple in our little downtown. Not only is it a grand tasting room with stellar suds, but it also offers a uniquely crafted space to gather and connect. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that our friend, COVID, definitely put this business’ very essence to the test. The new restrictions imposed on July 13th could have been devastating to this little brewery. Well, they COULD have been.

Kate Grissom, an owner of Cedar Crest Brewing, knew she had to pivot and pivot hard to create a safe space for people to engage in social connection outdoors. Upon brainstorming, she realized this transition could benefit others on the 600 block. All it took was a quick conversation with neighboring business owner, Lety Lara of Kanela’s Café, and the two women locked arms. 

“It just made sense to invite Kanela’s Café in on the creativity,” shared Grissom. “Lety, an incredible human and businesswoman, couldn’t have been more enthusiastic and supportive. The new coffee shop owners also stepped in to collaborate. These powerful connections have us swinging for the stars together.”

patioAs Grissom explored the idea of using her existing back parking space as well as Kanela’s large rear area to create outside seating, Grissom immediately inquired about obtaining proper permits from city staff.

Scott Miller, Assistant Public Works Director, remembers the request aligning perfectly with a regularly scheduled Technical Advisory Committee Meeting later that day. This group consists of staff from Public Works, Planning, Police, and Fire, and works collectively to review and discuss proposed developments or events in the city. The cosmos couldn’t have aligned more beautifully . . . or quickly . . . for Cedar Crest and partners.

Grissom’s proposal involved the alleyway, which is considered a street and public Right-of-Way (ROW). This required detailed permitting through Public Works. With supportive direction from the City Manager (who was on vacation mind you), Miller sprang into action. Countless calls were placed, applications were completed, and relevant documents were drafted as quickly as possible.

“I, as well as all the others in the city administration, wanted to assist local business where we could during this trying time,” offered Miller. “There was a constant, assertive, and passionate drive to make this happen.”

patio and artMiller wasn’t the only heavy hitter in on this undertaking. Kyle Sanders (Chief of Police), Scott Friend (Planning Director), Robin Kampmann (Public Works Director), Mike Bachmeyer (Fire Department Division Chief), and Rick Crabtree (City Manager) all went to great lengths to rapidly turn this from an inquiry into the product we see today. The determination and hours put in by this group speak volumes about many of our community leaders, as does the next statement uttered by Chief Sanders during our interview.

???????“This is our city. I don’t just work here – it’s my home, and it always has been,” said Sanders. "We all felt like we had to do whatever was in our power to help businesses, and we had the ability to make it happen.”

Once Grissom and the block team navigated the proper channels and permits were in place, the work was just beginning. The challenge? How to turn alley parking spots into an inviting atmosphere that encourages safe connections practically overnight. Grissom credits the quick turnaround to the endless support and labor from staff, family, and friends.

If you’ve graced this area yet, you know this team knocked it out of the park. The space screams success. From the cozy patio seating offered by Bruce and Bambi Geveden and the sizeable industrial cooler to the hopscotch, cornhole boards, and perfectly planned dining area, it’s genuinely one of a kind.

lacy wilson artThere is one thing in particular that “makes” the space more than anything --- the art. Six mind-blowing murals are hiding in this alleyway thanks to the unbelievable talent of Tehama CreativesLacy Wilson, Heather Vine, and Carl Avery. It’s so difficult to find the words to explain what these masterpieces did for the area, so I’ll let Lacy do it for us.

“Art transforms a place completely in your heart, mind, and soul,” gushed Lacy Wilson, owner of Lacy Wilson Art. “What was once a parking space is now a place where people smile, make memories, and take pictures.”

If we’ve learned anything about this town of ours over the years, it’s that no one “puts ‘Baby’ in a corner.” All silly movie references aside, one thing is for certain. The hard-working folks in this community are going to continue to rally behind one another until the end of time. It’s simply what we do. #thisisREDBLUFF

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