Since the second Visioning Meeting, I have been involved with the Main Street Program. Working on the Marketing and Promotions Committee, I volunteered two hours a week for several months. The majority of our effort was focused on identifying what Easton is – essentially, in marketing speak, our Brand. This process was led by Peter Stevenson, the committee chair.
While many people were anxious to start developing logo and tagline ideas, we were told by our chair that we had to be patient, there was a specific process that had to be followed. Once the research phase was completed, nothing else was mentioned about the branding project except that it was to be a line item in the Main Street budget. We were not aware that our chair, in conjunction with the city, was going to seek a grant for his company alone to do this work, and profit.
Last fall, an email was sent out stating that the Stevenson Group had been awarded this contract. I was confused and concerned. When I began asking questions about what was happening with the project, I was repeatedly told that the logo must be for the city [gov’t], but had nothing to do with Main Street. Meanwhile, the Stevenson Group remained involved with the committee.
From day one, the Marketing and Promotions Committee believed that we would be involved in the process. That minimally we would be involved in hiring anyone who would be hired and in reviewing their work. After months of silence, some, but not all of the committee members were invited to the presentation. At this presentation two weeks ago, as was done here tonight, Peter Stevenson admitted to having used the research done by the committee. In essence, we had been volunteering for him. To not include the committee at all is an insult, and brings into question the role committees are playing in the Main St. Program. The committee I was on had no knowledge of the development of this logo.
In good faith, I volunteered my time. In order for initiatives like the Main St. Program to succeed, volunteers need to feel empowered, not disenfranchised.
I don’t understand how or why this process happened the way it did. I respectfully ask you, council, to seek the answers to these questions:
1. Why was the Main Street Marketing Committee excluded completely from this process?
2. Why didn’t this grant go through the Main St. Program, but instead through the city?
It is my understanding that the Main St. Program is to be led by volunteers, not the city, not the employees of the program, and not a select few. It only seems right, that at this point, the process be opened up. The future identity of our city should not be decided by a select few, especially when it’s important to so many.
In closing, I just wanted to share a creative idea of my own. Since a grant awarded to the city paid for something that’s probably still in the Main St. budget, why not take the same amount of money from the Main St. Program and donate it to something that would benefit the people of Easton – like the pools.