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EDITORIAL | The Downtown State College Improvement District’s placemaking efforts have illuminated the community this summer

Caledonia 1

The music duo Caledonia performing in MLK Plaza on Thursday August 5, 2021. The event is part of the Live After Five series of live music events every Thursday evening hosted by The Band Junkies.

Nonprofit organizations serve as a necessary middleman between the local government and businesses: They essentially provide what these two entities naturally are unable to due to the nature of each. The Downtown State College Improvement District is a prime example of a nonprofit successfully filling the void left by the government and businesses.

DSCID is a “Neighborhood Improvement District,” according to its website, that “sponsors annual events, promotions and other civic-minded pursuits that add value to the State College experience and reinforce [its] belief that there’s no better place in the world to discover the best times of your life.”

And amid the loneliness, isolation and overall ominous tone the coronavirus pandemic brought to not only State College but the world, DSCID has served as a beacon of lightness and hope.

This summer alone, DSCID has offered coronavirus-conscious events including a weekly outdoor concert series highlighting local musicians titled “Live After 5” and an outdoor family-friendly movie series called “Family Flicks” — among also sponsoring or promoting events including a summer movie series in The State Theatre, ClearWater Conservancy’s public art walking tour and virtual Center for the Performing Arts events.

Pedestrians also could stroll down Calder Way — or “Calder WalkWay” — during the weekend of July 15 to be greeted by outdoor seating, lighting attractions, family movies and public art displays — all organized by DSCID.

From the surface, these various occurrences may not seem like an absolute necessity to the community. However, each of DSCID’s efforts throughout the summer have transformed State College into less of a barren college town and more of a thriving community filled with connections, art, music and beauty.

It’s easy to forget that beyond the barriers of Penn State’s campus sits a community bursting with people and families looking to have a full, vibrant experience in their little central Pennsylvania town. Organizations like DSCID are providing precisely this.

Especially in the midst of a pandemic, DSCID is taking clear efforts to keep morale high within the community. Even for passerby who don’t elect to attend events like “Live After 5,” those who hear live music while heading past the Martin Luther King Jr. plaza during a concert are likely to feel a bit uplifted and reminded of positive pre-pandemic times.

Ultimately, DSCID is one of the organizations striving to make the State College community feel more like a community. And, anything that connects community members more to each other and their physical space is worth pursuing. The population can never be too in tune with itself and its surroundings.

And, DSCID consistently promotes local businesses through its website and social media — always a plus in a town slowly gaining more big chains and corporate entities than their local counterparts.

Among DSCID sits 3 Dots Downtown, an artistic space that looks toward “promoting local arts, cultivating innovative experiences and offering an inclusive, welcoming community space,” according to its website.

Its slew of summer events including “Tuesdays on the Terrace” — a weekly event featuring live music, food and drink vendors, and other community activities — perfectly aligns with the mission of DSCID and other placemaking efforts within the community.

Art, music and a strong, unified social circle are some of the most prominent aspects involved in constructing a full life, even with the pandemic still trailing along with its remnants. DSCID, 3 Dots and other placemaking efforts must continue and receive support from the greater State College population to paint a rich life for each resident — including those who aren’t university students.

Daily Collegian Managing Editor Becky Marcinko can be reached at rnm5187@psu.edu.

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