Gathering 1.Oh!: Residents gather to envision downtown gathering place

Jill Schramm/MDN Jayde Brentrup chooses a paint brush to add to the color on an art table as Sarah Beth Roseth with Jelly Bean Street oversees the project at Gathering 1.Oh! downtown Thursday evening.

A largely empty downtown block targeted for a gathering place came to life Thursday evening to give people a sample of what might be.

Gathering 1.Oh! was so named because it’s the first trial run by organizers looking to generate some buzz around the potential of the downtown space.

Spring Bakke said the concept grew out of a conversation between Jessica Ackerman and herself as they considered the gift that Minot’s been given with $6 million in National Disaster Resilience grant money for a downtown gathering place. Although they knew they were working with some pretty raw material, Bakke said, they started thinking, “Why don’t we try out the space before it’s even ready and see what it feels like?”

She said people were thrilled to hear about the vision when presented with the idea.

Gathering 1.Oh! featured food trucks, a farmers market, artist demonstrations, musical entertainment and activities for kids. Posters with information about the aged buildings on the property and chalkboards where visitors could write their gathering place suggestions combined with colorful artwork to brighten up the space.

Jill Schramm/MDN Andrea Sammons demonstrates pottery making to visitors taking in Gathering 1.Oh! in downtown Minot Thursday.

Bakke said a website is being developed where people also can submit ideas. The goal of Gathering 1.Oh! has been to encourage people to see the vision and engage in the process, she said.

“Everybody is just really excited to see it come together,” she said of the gathering place.

Ackerman said she hopes creating a gathering event around the old buildings opens people’s minds to the idea of what might be preserved within a gathering place.

“I think the history is an important part of the story,” she said. “We are showing tonight this space works, even with buildings present.”

Council member Shannon Straight, who has been representing the council in the gathering place planning, noted there’s no local tax dollars involved in developing the space.

Jill Schramm/MDN A chalkboard for visitors to record their gathering place ideas and signage indicating the history of the buildings, along with colorful artwork, brightened up vacant space in the area of a proposed downtown gathering place Thursday.

“The goal is economic development in this community, and this could be a great first start,” he said. “I am excited about this project. I hope we can follow through and pull it all off.”

Gathering 1.Oh! visitors Dennis and Liz Wolsky were impressed with what they found at the event.

“I have to admit, I am pleasantly surprised,” Dennis Wolsky said. “It’s marvelous. I love to see the people downtown, having fun. And the extra space seems to make it possible.”

“It’s great,” Liz Wolsky said. “I like these kinds of things. I think it adds character to a town.”

Kelby Flaten particularly appreciated the farmers market and activities for her children.

“I don’t come downtown for anything,” she said, adding that could change for her once the gathering place is built.

“This is awesome,” she said. “This would attract, especially if kids can be involved.”