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Embracing an impending change

Planning — Community discussion will explore Newbergs changing identity as a wine country destination


Newberg is becoming a destination in Oregon wine country, which means an influx of visitors to the downtown area. So, as a part of the Chehalem Cultural Center’s “Think Again” series, Caleb Thurston, programming coordinator, said the CCC board chose to bring in a speaker to address the impending changes downtown will face.

“There’s pros and cons (to being a gateway to wine country),” Thurston said.

He’s been working with Nan Laurence, senior planner for Eugene, who will facilitate the conversation slated for 7 p.m. Thursday at the center.

“I don’t come in as an expert but try to facilitate a conversation for people to talk about what’s important to them,” Laurence said. “It’s not just about filling empty storefronts but saying what does our downtown say about us to the world.”

She said she volunteers with Oregon Humanities Con­ver­sat­ion Project to discuss with communities their values and what is important to them.

“There are lots of opportunities, but also challenges,” she said. “You want prosperity but also a local identity.”

She said many communities know what they want, but have no idea where to start and suspects the same will apply to Newberg.

“The question I always ask is, when you bring a visitor to downtown, where do you take them?” Laurence said. That way she can build on the discussion that is already there.

Thurston said although the “Think Again” series has been a mixed-bag so far with respect to attendance, he expects this conversation will draw community members out.

“We’re still playing with what does Newberg want to talk about. We come home after working all day (and are trying to figure out) what’s going to be that topic that pulls us back out of our homes to talk about,” he said. “(The changing downtown) is really engaging and very relevant. Whether you’re a business owner or interested in the identity of our culture. Downtown reflects that platform to discuss who we want to be.”

For more information about the community discussion, visit www.chehalemculturalcenter.org.



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