CWU Observer Article: Ellensburg downtown association works to unite campus and community

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Again, my students are hard at work. The Central Communication Agency has taken on the Ellensburg Downtown Association as a client to help build the relationship between the University and the community.

Article written by Chloe Ramberg, Staff Reporter on February 27, 2013. The source: http://cwuobserver.com/article.php?id=426.

Unveiling the curtain between Central Washington University and the downtown community is not as simple as pulling on a cord, but the Ellensburg Downtown Association (EDA) is determined to make it a reality.

At times, these two locations can seem like two entirely separate entities, even though they are coexisting within the same town.

Students hardly wander far from campus, and community members are rarely seen at college functions.

The EDA is working to bring these two worlds together, as well as completing other projects to better the downtown environment.

“Every community that has a college in it has some issues,” said Carolyn Honeycutt, director of the EDA. “How we deal with those issues and work with them is what I want to figure out.”

Combining these two subcommunities is essential for the future of Ellensburg and its economy. This has been the main goal of the EDA, and they continue to work on its progression.

“Strengthening partnerships within the community has been a strong focus of our director, Carolyn Honeycutt and the board,” President Linda Schantz said. “I am amazed at the positive community support that has helped us achieve our goals.”

Honeycutt has been working with the members of the members of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) in order to research and gain knowledge about the “town and gown” issue.

The term “town and gown” stems from the two very distinct communities of a university town. “Town” is known as the non-academic public, while “gown” is known as the university community. There have been instances where these two tend to clash, and the PRSSA is learning about how other towns react to this.

“I’m very much a mediator between these two communities, and I try to find a good approach to things rather than just being at odds immediately,” Honeycutt said.

Honeycutt believes the students of Central are not venturing downtown because they are not fully aware of everything it offers. Students tend to be stuck in a university setting.

“We’re always looking for ideas on what the students have that would interest them in the downtown,” Honeycutt said.

The downtown community will be undergoing changes in the upcoming months, changes that sometimes go unnoticed by the college community. Around 50 hand-crafted trash receptacles, 60 planters, and 40 benches will be places around the downtown area. This project should be completed by the spring of April 2014.

Not only will the aesthetic of the downtown be changing, but also their outreach to Central students. Students can now volunteer and take part in Girl’s Night Out, children’s activities, and other events presented downtown. Tables set up in the SURC often advertise these events, urging students to be a part of them.

“We’re trying to engage students and get them more involved,” Honeycutt said.

The EDA works to provide opportunities for merchants in the downtown area to better their sales, while bringing in new customers. According to Honeycutt, the two events held for Girl’s Night Out generated $40,000 sales for the downtown merchants.

These activities are not only creating business, but catching the eye of Central students
who normally wouldn’t be involved.

“I love going to Girl’s Night Out with all my friends,” said Marissa Toussaint, junior business.

Students can spend time off campus by volunteering at an activity or event, or walking around outside looking at all the shops. The Ellensburg downtown area is not only reserved for community members, but for everyone.

“It’s a very beautiful downtown that students should learn to enjoy,” Honeycutt said.

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