There was a great line from the old Cool Hand Luke movie that went something like, “what we have here, is a failure, to communicate.” And judging from both anecdotal comments and actual survey results done here in Kent, communication of events (or the lack thereof) and not knowing what’s going on around town has been a real frustration point for decades. The new Mayor joked that buying a community bulletin board was a top priority 20 years ago when he was on City Council so the fact that we are now at a point where we are set to order one is big news.
By virtue of my position I end up hearing about a lot of events going on in town and on campus and I have to tell you that there are tons of small events going on all the time. The trouble is, there’s no universal Kent Hotline that gets all the events announced so most of us go through our daily routine without time to search on-line for news of upcoming events and we end up missing a lot of good stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I hear about interesting speakers, bands or art shows that came and went — it drives me nuts.
And apparently I’m not the only one it drives nuts which is how the community bulletin board concept got pushed to the top of the priority list. Like many good ideas though, the community bulletin board faced a cash flow challenge. These things aren’t cheap — although the prices have come down in recent years as the technology as become more mass produced.
We knew that to pull this off we had to find partners, aka people that would share in the cost, and who better than Kent State University since they produce so many great activities week-in and week-out. It took some time but we talked the idea up enough that eventually KSU bit and they got as excited as we were about the prospect of joint community bulletin board.
Rather than having a proliferation of signs all over town our hope is that this joint bulletin board will be a central point for spreading the word on events both in town and on campus. Not only is that practical in term of getting information out, it’s also a great symbol for how far we’ve come in town/gown collaborations and partnerships.
Both parties felt that with so much invested in Kent, both on campus and in the evolving downtown projects, now was the time to make a very visible gesture of our town/gown convergence and we thought that the community bulletin board provided a great opportunity to do that. That’s why we took the time to design an attractive stone foundation to go along with the sign. We felt that this new structure makes a statement welcoming people to Kent and letting them know that they’ve arrived at someplace special.
Like most good ideas, the devil is in the details, and for the sign the great debate has been where to put it to get the most visibility. After months of debate, discussion, and grumbling it seemed that the best location (notice that I didn’t use the word perfect) given all of the variables involved was to put it at the northeast corner of Water and Haymaker. It took a long time to get to that decision and again it may not be perfect but it seemed to be the site with the most potential.
To test the site, the City’s Public Service Director, Gene Roberts is going to put a cardboard mock-up of the sign and foundation on the site Thursday afternoon to give us an idea of the scale and visibility. I’d encourage people to take a look at that. If it looks terrible there we may have to revisit the location options but it took a lot of brain damage to get us to this point and I’d hate to have to start all over again.
I’ve had people ask if our plan is to scroll information on the sign and I’d say that as far as scrolling goes, we had already said among ourselves that we were not fans of scrolling, so we were not anticipating a bunch of moving letters. Rather, I expected static messages, and possibly images, that would appear on screen for a certain amount of time and then be replaced with another message. We actually said it would be great to show some pictures of events, like Heritage Fest, the Wine and Cheese, etc. as part of the announcement for the dates and times of the event. The bulletin board will have video capabilities but at this point we weren’t planning on using the advanced tech bells and whistles all that much yet.
The goal is to have this built and installed by September of this year. That’s a fairly ambitious schedule but what it’s a good cause so everyone is going to work hard to hit that date.