Steering committee member spotlight
Lori Calhoun, founding member of the Drake Special Investment District, current Drake Steering Committee Member
Favorite quote: “Life is better when you are laughing.”
How did you first get involved/find out about Invest DSM?
I was fortunate enough to be part of the City’s pilot program (2018) on how to approach urban renewal. We discussed what was needed from the City and the neighborhood to successfully accomplish the goals we wanted for our community. Invest DSM was developed from that pilot program as the organization to help the City and the Special Investment Districts execute on their action plans.
What do you like most about being on the steering committee?
Initially, I loved learning about the neighborhood. Our demographics, the quality of our housing stock, our history, what people loved about the neighborhood and what we needed to improve. You need that data and background to be able to represent the neighborhood’s best interest and make educated decisions. I also love being part of a team. I get energized by hearing people’s ideas and more importantly, potential solutions on making our neighborhood a better place to live.
What is the purpose of the steering committee(s)?
I feel the purpose of the steering committee is to provide leadership on how we can make the neighborhood the best place it can be for our residents. We have developed an action plan to help achieve our desired goals for the community. Our job is to do our best to see it get executed and add, adjust or re-prioritize as needed. Intentional change takes planning and commitment to happen.
What has Invest DSM done for your neighborhood?
That is a long list! And a list with a lot of variety! Here are some highlights:
- Christmas Lighting – complete with caroling, hot chocolate, and cookies! This evolved into an annual event where we launch lights in our local business area (Dogtown) over the winter months.
- Gift cards for neighborhood clean-up efforts during COVID. It helped people get outside and support our local merchants.
- Block parties…many block parties…all that built community, awareness of Dogtown merchants, awareness of our history (new and old) and art!
- Murals in Dogtown
- Block Challenge [Grants]
- Renovations of historical homes
- Restoration of the Drake Memorial Garden, complete with a set of double porch swings and entrance sign.
What do you love most about your neighborhood?
I love the old homes. It is the reason I moved to the neighborhood. The history, craftsmanship, and charm are really amazing. It makes my heart so happy to see these old homes coming back to single family and returning to their prior glory. Did I mention that the houses generally come with people who love them just as much as me? It’s awesome to have neighbors that share similar passions.
What would you like to see improved in your neighborhood?
Due to our economic history, many of our older homes were transitioned to multi-family and rental properties. We need to continue to work to ensure our density remains reasonable and that quality housing is available.
Why should others get involved?
Be the change that you wish to see in the world (or your neighborhood!). Anything is possible, if people work together to get it accomplished. We just need YOU to have a better community!