Falling in Love with your Hometown

What is it about a community that makes you swell with pride, tweet incessantly, brag obnoxiously and share effusively?

Courtesy: Morgan Wolf

It is harder to capture in words than it is in a moment. It’s that mojo that we all search for. By we, I mean economic development specialists, entrepreneurial community advocates, travel and tourism pros and communicators enamored with promotion of place – our place.

Call it the it factor. That special something that makes a city pop. Makes it memorable.

Richard Florida touts who inspires the it factor while describing the rise of the Creative Class:

self-motivated, creative people are challenging the traditional structures of society … the emergence of this new social class is profoundly transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life. Success in the future, says Florida, is not just about technology, government, management or even power, but about people and their dynamic and emergent patterns of relationships.

Roger Brooks of DDI tackles what they’re searching for:

People are looking for that “Third Place” – a place to gather with friends and neighbors during their leisure time; to socialize, relax, shop, dine, and play together. According to Ray Oldenburg (The Great Good Place), the “First Place” is where you live, your home. The “Second” is where you work. The “Third Place” is where you go to hang out, spend your leisure time.

This past weekend Boise encapsulated all those elements and more. Our Third Place came alive.

Give credit to the creative chaos and beauty that was Treefort Music Fest - 4 days, 12 venues,  260 bands. But, it wasn’t just about the music or the hundreds of emerging artists who descended on Boise.

It was about convergence…. of musical, culinary and creative expression. Visual artists, dancers, crafters, brewers, mobile chefs and dance troupes blended together with a city commemorating its sesquicentennial, to create our own distinct celebration.

It was about co-mingling… the casual melding of all walks of life that tends to happen in Boise so easily that we often forget how unique it can be. Six degrees of separation does not exist in our city or state. The streets and sidewalks surrounding Treefort vividly brought this to life in real-time, in moments that will be indelible to those who experienced them.

It was about honoring our city’s past…. (tip of the fez to the El Korah Shriners) through brick and mortar icons and local music legends, while pushing the envelope on how a city’s personality can be showcased through the intangible nature of an event. Life and vibrancy after hours. Sidewalks as gathering places. Crosswalks as conversation hubs. Strangers connecting digitally, then sharing an analog moment.

But most of all, amidst the ongoing discussion in our city about creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem (ala Brad Feld’s Startup Communities), we saw what it looks like when the masses get behind and support a startup. Treefort was a celebration of success, where passion overcame any bumps and growing pains (or delightful spring weather.) It was a collaboration of efforts to create something cohesive. An experience that transcended the official event itinerary.

Boise’s been put on the map by many a Top Ten list and national publication. Who we truly are, how we define ourselves, what we choose to tout and share and celebrate is our own.

Let’s keep this conversation going and continue to celebrate the vibrant third place we call home.


(First published 3.26.13 on Red Sky’s Blog)