Mar 22, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
This unusual March weather has been the cherry on top of a truly unseasonable winter here in the region. While the shortfall of snow has undoubtedly forced local ski areas to pop Tylenol, it has had a positive impact in other places.
Take the Onondaga Creekwalk as an example. Back in October, the first phase of the Creekwalk was completed, the beginning of the culmination of a vision that has spanned a few mayors dating back to the 1960s. The first phase of the scenic walk spans 2.6 miles and connects Armory Square to the shore of Onondaga Lake, according to Andrew Maxwell, director of planning and sustainability for the city of Syracuse.
“Ten years ago, the city began to really work on it, and now we’re expanding on it,” he said.
He added there are plans for a second and third phase, but the city isn’t ready to move ahead with them yet.
While the Creekwalk still has a ways to go before it is exactly how the city wants it, a class from Syracuse University — Design Project Management — has begun taking huge steps toward revitalizing something the students feel is a vital part of the region. The class broke apart into different groups that mimic a company the city could contract all this work out to. A broad goal for the entire class is to “embody Syracuse’s mantra of scholarship in action.”
Students in in the Design Problem Management class in the college of Visual and Performing Arts have been working on the project all semester. Bill Padgett and Rod Martinez are the professors of the class, and they met with representatives from the city and agreed that this project could take place. The city is sponsoring the initiative, and on April 18, the class will be presenting the final work to the school’s chancellor and also to the mayor of Syracuse.
Basically, the class is going to come up with a new logo for the Creekwalk, one that will go on posters, flyers and even letterheads. They are also designing signs and maps that include how to navigate the Creekwalk, and also local attractions.
“We basically want to educate people on what the Creekwalk is,” said Katja Anderssen, a student and member of the class’ public relations team. “We’re coming up with visuals that will grab people’s attention and help them navigate.”
The mission statement for the project says the goal is to “conceive a distinct identity for the Onondaga Creek with the hope of promoting use of the Creekwalk.”
On March 21, the class met to go over the strides being made by the different departments. Anderssen led the PR group’s presentation, which went over every outlet they had contacted in hopes of getting the word out. Aside from the usual suspects — newspapers, television news — the group also reached out to local bloggers and independent journalists. Some had responded while others hadn’t acknowledged the work the class is doing.
“It’s hard to soar with the eagles when you walk with the turkeys,” Martinez joked.
Still in the works for the PR team is to create a poster or flyer, something that can be noticeable by everyone who views it. It’s a version of branding, and the city of Syracuse is getting all this work done at a very significant discount over hiring a special firm to do it.
“They’re our pseudo consultants,” Maxwell said.
He said the city had some money set aside to start the project, but when the professors approached the city, it was a great idea that was liked all-around.
“We had some resources set aside for way-finding,” he said. “We didn’t have enough, though, to do something like this. It’s a great partnership and it’s something we definitely have a need for.”
In total, the creek stretches 18 miles, and it flows through the entire city. According to the class, the creek has a magnificent history as well as a lot to offer currently in the form of fishing and bird watching.
“There’s so much history along the creek,” said Taylor Hurewitz, one of Anderssen’s PR teammates. “We’re working with a historian to gather all the info we can get to use it in what we’re doing.”
A student next presented a dazzling array of different possible logos she designed. Most of them were simple and contained yellow, red, blue or orange, and each gave the appearance of a relaxed atmosphere that, in some way, paid homage to Syracuse’s history. The professors spent ample time critiquing each one, while allowing classmates to give their own input. The final logo will be unveiled during the final presentation.
The class also has to find a way to market the project.
“It’s got to be kid-friendly,” Anderssen said. “Come ride a bike, bring the family for a walk and just enjoy the surroundings.”
Maxwell said that since the completion of the first phase, the most common complaint brought forth is that some users are confused as to where to continue the walk — at one point, the creek flows under a building — among other things.
“Hopefully by doing this project, we can alleviate a lot of that,” Maxwell said.
He added that the city seems to be heading in the right direction in terms of development.
“We’d love to see this be a regional attraction,” he said.
He took it one step further.
“Despite the state of the economy, there’s some really exciting projects going on in this city,” he said. “The Creekwalk is going to add a lot of value to everything that is happening.”
If you’d like to keep with with the operation, you can follow the group on Twitter at @Branding_Creek, or search Facebook for “Revitalizing the Onondaga Creekwalk.”
Neil Benjamin Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.