Decades of job, education, livability, and economic trends can transform a downtown drastically.  Some Indiana cities and towns have downtown environments that provide a balanced quality of life for their residents.  Quality of life elements are often focused on economy, livability, education, job availability, aesthetics, and healthy environments.  When any of these elements start to decline, so does the balance of a thriving downtown district.  Three basic mindsets can start strengthening a community’s core—whether decline is barely on the horizon or has been years in the making.

1. Listen first.
Each generation has the ideal approach to using downtowns.  In the last 50 years, downtowns went from being the center of every business transaction to dirty/abandoned buildings to trendy hotspots.  What does today’s generation want their downtown to be?  Ask the people in your community to identify who is currently investing in making your downtown great and find more people of the same mindset.
 2. “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
Just talking about ideas will not benefit your downtown’s quality of life balance.  Plan to take action, work out the logistics, assemble a budget, and define a timeframe for downtown projects.  Then find strategic partners, funding allies, entrepreneurs and educational anchors who can work the plan.
3. Be patient and persistent.
Downtowns need advocates. Working within the public realm can be tiring.  Often, patience with the process can lead to a better idea, product, or partnership. Show patience by allowing your plan to be flexible enough to maximize and leverage opportunities.  Patience is a skill, and persistence is a task.  Don’t give up!

Downtown revitalization advocates who apply these mindsets will experience progress in their efforts to balance the quality of life in their district.  Indiana downtowns are changing to meet the demands of a new fast-paced, high-tech, and service-oriented generation of users.  How can you help your downtown district be in the position to thrive?