Unbelievably, it’s been more than five years since I helped the City of Sacramento launch the program for Catalyst: Capitol Mall Design Competition. Since then we have seen a lot of great things happening: design and construction of a new arena, plans to re-envision Crocker Park into a great civic amenity and redevelopment of West Sacramento’s Bridge District to include activated spaces like “The Barn.” Each of these are great on their own, but one thing is still missing: a strong link/connection tying everything together while allowing these individual spaces to stand alone.
The title of this blog is a play on words from a phrase we’ve all heard. It comes from a very old hymn “… blessed are the ties that bind.” The famous play “Our Town” uses the hymn extensively to underscore the value of connection that leads to commitment. But what if we look at it the other way around? Commitment to an activated Capitol Mall can serve as a binding agent to create the necessary connection that ties all of these wonderful new endeavors together, let alone those already in place.
Though Catalyst has yet to result in actual construction, things are beginning to look up for Capitol Mall. The cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento have been successful in obtaining a NEA grant for master planning and limited implementation of an art program that connects the two cities. This great bit of news might truly serve as a catalyst to redevelopment of the Mall by providing the means to realize our collective dream. Strangely enough, the name of the NEA grant program is OUR TOWN. Hmmmmm.