Building Imagination in California’s Central Valley

California State University, Stanislaus College of the Arts

Funding Received: 2012
Turlock, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
November 25, 2013

This month, the Building Imagination Center has been preparing for several future events. The asbestos abatement has been completed in our future center, and we have been confirming audio/video control panel wall locations, power needs, and other preliminary issues to make sure our new location will meet our needs for years to come. We have finalized the films we will be screening at our first film festival in downtown Modesto’s historic State Theatre, all of which are made by local residents. We have been working with the Modesto Art Museum to create a short promotional video for the new Design District. Currently in production, filming the many business, restaurants, spas, boutiques, and music spots has been a wonderful affirmation of the potential of the City. The excitement of these local businesses to participate in the film has been an excellent testament to the collective goals of the district to re-establish Modesto’s sense of place.

Recent wins
Modesto officials expect thousands of spectators to line downtown streets in August for three days, partnering with Southern California-based SuperKarts! USA to bring the 2014 Pro Tour Summer Nationals to the city. The city expects the event will draw 10,000 spectators along with 1,560 drivers, pit crew members, and race officials. The city expects these out-of-towners will spend $968,000 during their time in Modesto for lodging, food and other purchases.

The Salvation Army’s homeless shelter in Modesto debuted its $1 million upgrade. The shelter has 75 beds for men and 25 for women. Work on the upgrade started last year and included new dorms with new beds; a new dining room with space for a chapel, recreation area and gym; and installing more security cameras. The shelter is also lowering part of the ceiling to reduce heating and air-conditioning bills in the cavernous former food-processing warehouse.

Also this month, elementary school students helped with the restoration of Dos Rios Ranch, where the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers join, about 10 miles southwest of Modesto. The students only worked one of the ranch’s 1,600 acres, but knew they were contributing to something much larger. Dos Rios is part of an effort to revive some of the riparian forest that covered much of the Central Valley before water diversion, farming and other human changes. River Partners launched the restoration after acquiring the ranch last year from public and private sources. The planners say the project will ease the flood threat on the lower San Joaquin, all the way to Stockton, while providing habitat for young salmon and other wildlife benefits.

We have been working with the City on solving some of the obstacles to our creative placemaking efforts in downtown Modesto. The issue currently at hand is that downtown has become a stopping point for an extremely large flock of Starlings, and the City will be using trained falcons to help the flock relocate. Whereas last year the unwelcome presence of the Starlings was cause to run under cover, this year the City is embracing the event as an opportunity to see falconry in action. How does your city turn lemons into lemonade?