Around Edmond: Celebrating our community on the 4th of July.

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Hi everyone, the 4th of July is finally here.  15 years ago, this coming Thursday, I stepped out of my home to shoot photos, with my husband, of the Libertyfest fireworks display sponsored by the City of Edmond, then held at UCO.

I had just started EdmondActive online, and was pursuing a print magazine, which I had published for 13 years, until just after Covid hit. I literally had no idea what EdmondActive would be, my husband wanted it to be a sports outlet and I wanted it to be about active members of our community. So, here it is, 15 years later, after having told hundreds of community stories, a community site and social network.

It has been my honor and absolute privilege to be allowed to tell the stories of families, business owners, local leaders and cover events in our community for the last 15 years. Complete with occasional follow ups, and more.

Edmond is so much more than just events, stories or just business development and shopping information.  I always laugh when some come in to Edmond and think they will be the new source of “affluent” information as sold to larger businesses that advertise, with their thinking that with their presence that all other Edmond outlets will just die away. Regular residents in Edmond don’t care about affluency, but about the community we live in.

I’ve taken a few days off to just sit with the impact all of you have had on myself and my family, and grateful doesn’t even cover it.  The people of Edmond are kind, compassionate, empathetic to other’s plights and needs, aside from the few you see newsclips about who are visibly angry at how the City has grown over the last 4 years.

In exciting news, there is a new civics reporter taking over the very big shoes at Non Doc left by Joe Tomlinson who recently moved to Ohio to live with his longtime girlfriend who just so happens to write for USA Today.  You can read his blog here that includes how invested he became while working on Hilton Head Island as a reporter. After reading this story, I personally look forward to the same great reporting done at Non Doc on city civics happenings! Check it out:

My grandpa always told me not to worry about change too much because it was the one constant that could be counted on to occur every 7 to 10 years.  So many have voiced concern over the loss of naturally occurring attainable housing in Downtown Edmond in exchange for high end luxury new construction, to bring forth more affluent residents to fund the new development on a retail and restaurant level in our Downtown district.

Our Downtown district has come so far since 2009, for those who are new to the area, and surely everyone who has spent any time down in this area on Broadway from 2nd Street north to Danforth has had some fantasy of what they believe the area could become. It is now a bustling space full of people, places to dine and relax on patios, shopping and a new bookstore.  In 2009, this energy was found in Spring Creek Plaza and Village off of Bryant and 15th Street, where high end boutiques filled the spaces with amazing window displays abounding.

Change is inevitable, we all know this. The housing crisis we started noticing 4 years ago isn’t new and it is a real thing seeing neighbors who need housing that is attainable & affordable being priced out of Edmond entirely (many of whom are the service workers who provide you with coffee and food or even teachers, etc.)

This problem is nationwide, and concerning for sure. Now we face criminalization and dehumanization of people with less means to afford the increased cost of basic housing which in turn will not allow them to qualify for any rentals due to a record for being unhoused.

This week the Supreme Court just ruled that it is not cruel and unusual punishment to criminalize those without housing.  Downtown Edmond now is becoming a space of affluency and this obvious statement will bring the chagrin of our marketing and advertising leaders in the City of Edmond, but it appears to no longer be a space where everyone can live and play, as it was only 48 months ago.

The leaders in our community knew this in 2022, and rolled out an entire deck to explain to our community what is happening in our town.  On one hand they understand this is happening but are happily pushing through development plans that only account for affluent and upper middle class residents, and on the other hand, we are being advertised to outsiders as a luxury community, welcoming these folks to come and spend their vacation dollars within our City limits, which is never a bad thing, it just feels dystopian and inauthentic.

With that said, again, our local neighbors are not interested in creating this affluent vibe, but a community connection that makes Edmond simply the very best  town in the country.  When Hal French made public his sculpture park concept, that he wanted to implement on 2nd and Coltrane, it was immediately received by the public with such positive fervor, it was overwhelming.  To create a free space to enjoy public art, with a new space for the Edmond Fine Arts Institute including a new performing space, and more shopping and restaurant space just hit the spot with our residents.   It was a space that many residents have craved, one where they could go and not spend money if they didn’t want to, but a new area to get out and be with other members of our community in a beautiful space.

Why did people respond so favorably to the Uncommon Ground Park?   Because this project wasn’t being touted “at” people to make a profit, but it was for the entire community without exception as to who could enjoy its space.  This project is one of the very best things about the people in Edmond, especially when all sides walked away for a moment.   While I would have loved to have seen a performing arts center built in Downtown Edmond to really tie the whole concept of affluent urban living together, it never materialized, yet a new City “Complex” costing $84 million did, which leaders are super excited about as are City employees but it leaves citizen’s of Edmond less than enthused without any real outward benefit to the community.

Another thing that came as a surprise last November was the DEBA sponsored Deck the Downtown event and new community Christmas Tree lighting event on 1st Street west of Broadway.  This event embodied the essence of community as I have always known it to be in Edmond in the midst of an affluency push in 2023. Santa and Mrs. Claus attended, there were live reindeer to feed and holiday crafts and other fun activities. Then at dusk, Santa led the countdown to the tree lighting and there wasn’t a dry eye in the Festival Marketplace.  This event created the same community connection and vibe as you will likely feel when you attend Thursday’s Libertyfest Parade in Downtown Edmond. Or the Fireworks display at 2nd & Bryant later in the evening.  The leaders in the Downtown Edmond Business Association understood the assignment and created a holiday event which fosters community, not just expensive lavish entertainment, that was more than any other event in Edmond offered.

I am just sitting thinking of how few people would ever stop in Downtown Edmond in 2009 vs what it has become, and I am smiling knowing that people I have gotten to know who run or own small businesses in this district are now seeing bustling crowds fill their shops more so than not, even in this weird economy – and I could just bet that they still remember who you are every time you enter their shops and restaurants. These people are our neighbors and for their sake, I am hoping all of the developers keep that in mind, while further developing our sweet Downtown, and make a hard push in attracting the types of residents that can attain this affluent urban lifestyle sold to our leaders.

All said, it’s time to celebrate Independence Day, a day which our country’s founders decided to walk away from the oppressive rule of a King and oppressive nature of the Church of England that would allow everyone freedom under a democratic republic to be free of government overreach in our personal lives.  I still believe in this Country, and in Edmond as I know it, and am hoping we can all agree that having freedom to live as you see fit is really a fantastic way to live.

Happy Independence Day and lets all hope we remain independent and free this time next year! See all of you back here next week!

Sherri

About Author /

Hi there! I am Sherri Hultner and I am the founder of all things EdmondActive! The website and social networks of over 40,000 local residents are where you can find me interacting daily with our followers

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