Each week, I publish a newsletter with a positive view of rural. Recently, I featured the idea of giving your small town a dash of color. Keith Snyder of Lincoln, Illinois, replied with some great news about how his town is letting their color and creativity out. Lots of ideas you can use here. –Becky
First of all, thank you! I really enjoy your newsletter! The last one re: the Micropolitan Manifesto was very inspiring. Our local Chamber of Commerce has started a Young Professionals Network, and I shared the Manifesto with them. They all loved it and began thinking about ways to draw more of their peer group back to town.
Yesterday’s article about adding a dash of color also made me think of some things we’ve done here. Lincoln’s a community of 14,500 located right smack dab in the middle of Illinois. Like most small, Midwestern communities, we have struggled not only through the most recent recession, but before. One of the things we have undertaken in the last few years has been a variety of beautification projects involving punches of color and creativity.
Last year we had community volunteers turn out to transform two ugly railroad viaducts into beautiful works of art. Both viaducts were designed by a local college art professor: one design (on S. Kickapoo Street) paid homage to our local balloon festival (held the last weekend in August each year) and the other (on S. College St.) paid a whimsical tribute to Japanese street art similar to “flower power” images from the 1960’s. Links to photos and news stories about the two viaducts are below.
- Lincoln Daily News stories on S. Kickapoo Street viaduct artwork
- Lincoln Daily News photo of S. College Street viaduct
- Lincoln Daily News album of photos
The community has really responded positively to each. Residents now take visitors to see each of them, and high school seniors have begun having their senior pictures in front of each of them. How often would that happen with typical railroad viaducts?
The last few years we have also spearheaded a “Plant the Town Red” initiative. In order to do that, we have sold thousands of red tulips to local residents to plant in their yards and along public thoroughfares. To date, we’ve put over 40,000 tulips in the ground. We’re no Holland, Michigan, but we do enjoy our splashes of red all over town each year.
One last thing — our viaduct initiative has sparked another piece of public art in Lincoln. Just this past spring students from Lincoln Christian University created their own mural on the side of a downtown building.
That’s how we’ve been letting some of our creativity out! It’s been a blast, and we can’t wait to do more. This year’s street art project is going to involve “Hidden Lincolns” – a kind of a scavenger hunt where people will look for Abraham Lincoln icons painted on sidewalks and buildings and, in turn be directed to QR codes nearby they can scan to learn more about Mr. Lincoln and the only community in the world named for and by him before he became President.
Thanks for your encouraging articles. Keep up the good work!
Mayor, City of Lincoln
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