The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Residents share their photos and thoughts for improving community

Participants in the photo display felt abandoned buildings, like this old cleaners facility located on the corner of Market and Fifth streets, could be redone for community use. Enlargephoto

Rachel Segura/Cortez Journal

Participants in the photo display felt abandoned buildings, like this old cleaners facility located on the corner of Market and Fifth streets, could be redone for community use.

Cortez is a gem.

The people who have lived here their whole lives know this. Children who grow up here have amazing parks to play in against mountainous backdrops; tourists glimpse the clarity of Cortez and hope to return again soon.

However, every gem has its flaws. Sometimes it takes an expert to discover them.

Residents of Cortez were invited to take photos of various sites, buildings, streets and neighborhoods to show off the beauty of Cortez or to recognize its faults.

That was the premise for the Heart and Soul Project photo display, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” that ran at the Cortez Cultural Center from Sept. 7 to Sept. 28. The residential experts took to the streets to mark their feelings about their town.

“We saw many things that included keeping our Main Street alive and accessible to businesses,” said Shawn Collins, executive director of the cultural center. “Things to keep the local economy alive.”

One photo identified the vacant stores along Main Street. Their empty windows beckoned for attention but they also give an impression of a dilapidated community. One posted suggestion was to offer these storefronts up to artists; to use these empty spaces for galleries so wanderers have something fresh to look at until a new business can occupy them.

“This could help people to see our downtown as vibrant and that we have an active artist community,” Collins said.

Collins also serves on the Community Advisory Team for the Heart and Soul Project. She felt the display was well received and noted that the community’s feedback was very important.

“What was most exciting about the show was, we weren’t just looking for what they loved or didn’t love but for what needs to be improved,” Collins said. “We were looking for constructive criticism from the community.”

Some photos included vacant, graffitied buildings in neighborhoods or along Broadway that could potentially be remodeled and used for meetings, dances or art galleries. There was a great amount of want for more farmer’s markets, art and music in the community.

She stressed the importance of a good economic situation so people can and will want to live here. But she found that the community may feel that safety and security is more important. Giving the upper hand to the people is what will help them identify problem areas.

The most points awarded to Cortez, was its wonderful parks system, recreational resources and daily occurrences with wildlife.

“We want to keep access to open spaces for recreational opportunities but at the same time improve job opportunities,” Collins said. “Especially to keep youth here or get them to come back once they’ve been out in the world for a bit.”

Collins said the comprehensive plan, designed by Heart and Soul, is about putting these suggestions into action for people who desire value and growth of Cortez. Sometimes, they come across discouraged citizens who feel their input is not valuable because nothing comes of it.

“We want to make things happen so they don’t stagnate,” Collins said. “We want to hear from people who wouldn’t normally be involved in the planning process to figure out how we can make it better.”

The Heart and Soul committee will continue to hold events throughout the community until the project’s end in January of 2013. From there, the committee will work to form and initiate plans from the suggestions of residents.

Check cortezheartandsoul.com for more information about upcoming events and planning meetings.

rachels@cortezjournal.com

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Parque de Vida and the Recreation Center got rave reviews as being great places for family and recreational activities. Many residents stated this was the “good” of Cortez.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$ Enlargephoto

Rachel Segura/Cortez Journal

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Parque de Vida and the Recreation Center got rave reviews as being great places for family and recreational activities. Many residents stated this was the “good” of Cortez.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$

Suggested ideas for empty storefronts along Main Street included art galleries for local artists to help promote visual appeal for residents and tourists. Enlargephoto

Rachel Segura/Cortez Journal

Suggested ideas for empty storefronts along Main Street included art galleries for local artists to help promote visual appeal for residents and tourists.

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Planters lining Main Street help brighten the sidewalks.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$ Enlargephoto

Rachel Segura/ Cortez Journal

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Planters lining Main Street help brighten the sidewalks.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$The exhibit for the Heart and Soul project includes what local residents wrote about what they like about Cortez.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$ Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$The exhibit for the Heart and Soul project includes what local residents wrote about what they like about Cortez.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$

LaDean Chadwick looks at the pictures of Cortez submitted by residents for the Heart and Soul project. The Cortez Cultural Center has a display of the pictures. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

LaDean Chadwick looks at the pictures of Cortez submitted by residents for the Heart and Soul project. The Cortez Cultural Center has a display of the pictures.

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Residents drew a collage of pictures of what they liked about Cortez for the Heart and Soul project. The drawings are part of the exhibit at the Cortez Cultural Center.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$ Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Residents drew a collage of pictures of what they liked about Cortez for the Heart and Soul project. The drawings are part of the exhibit at the Cortez Cultural Center.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$