The Arts Warehouse, Empty Bowls & Public Service

A display at the new Arts Warehouse in downtown Delray.

We attended the long awaited soft opening of the new Arts Warehouse Friday night.

It was worth the wait.

Kudos to the CRA for having the vision—and the fortitude—to stick with this project near Third Avenue and Third Street in the burgeoning Artist’s Alley area of Pineapple Grove.

The addition of the Arts Warehouse which has gallery space, public space and artist’s studios will enable artists to build their skills and their clientele in a low-cost environment in a high value part of town.

Those of us who remember Pineapple Grove founder Norm Radin will remember that the original vision of the district was to be an artsy complement to Atlantic Avenue.

With Old School Square, the Arts Garage and now the Arts Warehouse, Delray Beach is rapidly building an arts and cultural scene that will keep the city relevant and interesting to residents, visitors and creatives.

The CRA’s investment in the old warehouse and its imaginative design (great job Currie-Sowards-Aguila Architects) will pay dividends for years to come.

We ran into one of my favorite local artists the wonderfully talented Ralph Papa who was beaming with excitement. Mr. Papa says it’s critical for artists to have low cost space to grow their talent and that the lack of such space often stunts or even stops artists from developing their artistic vision.

It was also gratifying to see fans and patrons of the Arts Garage and key staff and board members from Old School Square at the opening. Their presence shows support and the potential for collaboration which only leverages each organization and the city as a whole.

The CRA often endures blistering criticism for their investments—much of it way off the mark although no agency is perfect. The fact is the true mark of a good investment is whether there is a return on that investment—in terms of tax base, business activity, vibrancy and quality of life.

Time and time again for three plus decades, the CRA has consistently delivered.

My bet is that the Arts Warehouse will prove to be a solid investment yielding dividends for years to come in a myriad of ways.

When you’re in the neighborhood, make sure to check it out.

 

Empty Bowls

I had the privilege to serve soup (delicious black bean from Cabana El Rey) Sunday afternoon at “Empty Bowls Delray Beach”.

This is the second year for this unique event at Old School Square at which we “eat simply so others can simply eat.”

 

When you think of Palm Beach County, we mainly think of our gorgeous weather, many activities and prosperity. But, even here in our beautiful county, more than 200,000 residents don’t know where they will get their next meal. Last year this event raised more than $100,000 for hungry Palm Beach residents served through the Palm Beach County Food Bank.

Not sure how they did this year, but the event seemed well attended. Kudos to the volunteers and especially Shelly and Billy Himmelrich—two amazing people—who helped to organize and promote the event.

 

The Food Bank provides food to more than 110 food pantries, soup kitchens and residential programs who serve our neighbors in need. They also provide weekend feeding packs for children (Food4OurKids), nutrition education in partnership with the University of Florida (Nutrition Driven) and connect residents with federal programs through Benefits Outreach. Each month, the Food Bank’s partner agencies serve more than 100,000 individuals across the county and annually they distribute more than 5 million pounds of food.

Those are astonishing numbers.

 

But despite the yeoman’s work of the Food Bank, the need remains great.

And particularly this time of year, when we are focused on family, fellowship and celebrations, it’s a perfect time to give back and to think of others less fortunate.

The need is year-round and unfortunately growing. Yes, there is hunger in our own backyard.

Here’s a list of the generous sponsors—- and to the chef who made the artichoke soup—well let’s just say words can’t describe how good it tastes.

Empty Bowls Delray Beach sponsors: Old School Square, Old School Bakery, Elmore Family Foundation, Patty & Rod Jones, Pechter Family Foundation, Under the Sun, Brenda Medore & Leanne Adair, Bethesda Hospital Foundation, Katherine and Joshua Littlefield, Jeffrey Pechter, Deborah and Michael Pucillo, Transforming Kids, American Heritage school, Michele and Randy Broda, Caffe Luna Rosa, Cheney Brothers, City Capital Group, Menin, Coco & Co, Delivery Dudes, Delray Beach plastic Surgery, Floridian Community Bank, peacelovesolve, Red Steel Property and Stuart & Shelby Development, Inc.

 

Our trip to the Glades….

Every year, the Palm Beach County League of Cities hosts its year-end meeting at a beautiful waterfront park in Belle Glade.

The event collects toys for needy children and also serves as a reunion for municipal leaders from throughout the county. County officials and state legislators also gravitate to the event for a fun afternoon of food, home grown vegetables and networking.

I like to go every year because it keeps me connected to city government. So while I have been termed out for a decade now (hold your applause), I still feel a kinship with local elected officials and staff. I also know quite a few from my era who are still serving (bless their souls) and it is fun to catch up and trade stories. (It was nice to see you, Chevelle).

We have such a vast county—which you realize when you make the long trek to the Glades.

It’s also a diverse county—with bigger cities such as West Palm and wealthy towns such as Palm Beach, sharing common challenges with smaller cities such as South Bay and Pahokee.

The League of Cities is an important organization because it’s a convener, a connector and a fierce advocate for the principles of Home Rule and the needs and interests of cities.

As the government closest to the people, local cities and towns have the ability to be nimble and affect positive change rapidly…if they are focused, determined and willing to stand up against the naysayers who exist in every town.

There’s not a lot of glory in local government service, but there could be immense satisfaction and opportunity if local leaders engage stakeholders, forge a vision and most important of all, execute.

You have to make decisions and get things done.

It’s that simple….if you choose to take advantage of the huge opportunity presented by public service.

 

Speak Your Mind

*