How Community Leaders Created Solutions at the Annual Downtown Colorado, Inc. Conference

-By Erin Dixon – Video by Angelica Wedell

Local government leaders, planners, developers, consultants and artists transformed beautiful Breckenridge, CO into an interactive and collaborative space at the 2017 annual Vibrant Downtowns Conference hosted by Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI). This year’s theme, “In the Game,” focused on idea sharing between professionals of all fields needed for building better downtowns and communities.


Challenge Studios

Attendees took part in daily Challenge Studios, complete with at least one expert consultant. Previously, registrants submitted a pressing challenge facing their community. Then, with the help of their peers and embedded experts, participants brainstormed actionable solutions. The work doesn’t end there. Following the conference, DCI will send resources and professionals to those selected jurisdictions to assist in implementing positive change.

Fun In the Game

The conference was as lively as its theme. DCI made sure to plan some extra fun activities, such as guided tours of Breckenridge, karaoke, improve comedy, a play at the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre and much more. “The conference was full of valuable information, and we also had a lot of fun,” commented National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) Marketing Manager Angelica Wedell.


Check out the full photo album on Facebook

Dynamic Speakers

The line-up of conference speakers included dynamic innovators like Julie Burros, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston; Vince Kadlubek, CO-founder and CEO of Meow Wolf; Steven Thomson, Program and Communications Manager for the Van Alen Institute; and State Demographer Elizabeth Garner among others.

National Research Center was happy to contribute as a sponsor and send a couple of our experts. Survey Consultant Jade Arocha facilitated a lunch workshop and took part in a Challenge Studio discussion. As a featured speaker at the conference, Angelica Wedell shared a few details from the National Citizen Survey TM database on health, wellness and safety ratings by residents in Colorado and the rest of the U.S.

DCI-Challenge Studios

Here’s what some conference attendees most enjoyed about the 2017 Vibrant Downtowns Conference, In the Game, and what they hope everyone will take away.

Conference Comments

“I have been so inspired by all the enthusiasm, care, and pride that people have for their communities. Even though people are coming from all different regions of the state (and there are people from all over the country here), everyone had in common a real affinity for their people, for their communities where they’re from. I think that I’ll take that inspiration with me in all my projects.” – Steven Thomson, Program and Communications Manager, Van Alen Institute

“I love the community that Downtown Colorado, Inc. has created, and everybody’s willingness to be helpful and share with other people.” – Katrina Harms, Chair of Nederland Downtown Development Authority, Town of Nederland, CO


“The one thing that stood out to me most about this conference was the positive energy, the way in which everyone came together and collaborated to solve the problems that were posed to them in the challenge studios, as well as the really informative and engaging different events and activities that were available to us, [like] the tours. And of course, the Town of Breckenridge is beautiful. It was great to be here.” – Jade Arocha, Survey Consultant, National Research Center, Inc. (NRC)

“One major thing I took away was the collaboration. The mornings gave us a lot of individual ideas, and then as we went to the Challenge Studios, we got to bring them all together … I just want to collaborate with everyone in my town now and have Challenge Studios all the time.” – Ashley UpChurch, Membership and Marketing Coordinator, Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce

“Overall I had the most wonderful time! It was such a creative conference, and everyone felt that energy … We all have to live someplace, and what everyone is about is making where they live better.”- Eileen O’Brien, Former Director of Membership and Volunteers, Denver Film Society


“If I had one takeaway for everyone here, it is invest in your people. Invest in your communities, so that they can invest in you later on. [This allows them to] feel that sense of connection and have a reason to ensure your sustainability and longevity. At the end of the day, we’re all here to make sure our communities are vibrant, happy, healthy, safe, all that fun stuff. We do that by making sure we are truly serving them.” – Rachel Trignano, Manager of Public and Community Relations, Colorado Symphony

“One of the messages that was a big takeaway for me is ‘vision is really key,’ and having that laser-focus on vision. Not worrying about the resources, not worrying about capacity, but starting with vision and then going from there. Great ideas and clearly articulated vision do draw the resources, and then those resources will help you build that capacity. I would challenge communities to develop that clear vision, stick with it and use it to propel your arts forward.” – Julie Burros, Chief of Arts and Culture, City of Boston, MA

“I really do enjoy the focus on interactivity, networking and taking away solutions that are truly viable for these communities. To see people collaborating together, to see people in the afternoons laughing together and sharing stories was really inspiring for me. I look forward to the future when [this conference] comes to Boulder. National Research Center is located in Boulder, so we’re really looking forward to everyone coming to visit us.” – Angelica Wedell, Marketing Manager, National Research Center, Inc. (NRC)


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