Do you get excited when you drive down Third Street and see all of the ways Downtown is growing toward German Village?

Do you get excited when you drive down Third Street and see all of the ways Downtown is growing toward German Village?

Instead of an empty mall shell, there's a booming city park. Businesses are opening along Third, High and Fourth streets.

As the city's downtown core sees investment, media attention and new residences and businesses sprouting -- we're no longer a community cut off by the interstate -- we're part of a city newly focused on the kind of lifestyle we've created in German Village for the past 54 years.

It makes me excited for a program we're working on for fall.

We plan to take that renewed "urban" energy and create something for neighbors to both teach and learn about best practices in urban living. I want you to mark your calendars now for Sept. 16-18 because I know you'll want to take part.

We're partnering with Columbus' urban neighborhoods, Ohio State University's Knowlton School, the Columbus Foundation and other groups and companies who are focused on all of the ways grassroots efforts have helped revitalize the city's core.

We're interested in a conversation about strong, livable, vibrant neighborhoods.


You might remember that German Village was named one of America's top 10 neighborhoods in 2011 by the American Planning Association.

A small group of preservation volunteers started helping me think about how we might propel that recognition to something good for the neighborhood in the longer term.

The idea to invite American Planning Association planners to Columbus from a five-state region to show off what we've done, as well as to learn alongside them, was the result.

The title of the workshops is "Urban. Living. History. Paths to transformation." But we're calling it, for short, the "Great Places Conference."

It will include continuing education credit for not just planners, but architects and Realtors. We also want YOU. The public is invited to ALL of these tracks and learning opportunities at a price meant for participation -- not credits

We're planning five tracks of education that include the power of the physical environment in placemaking.

So, whether that's our Third Street project in German Village, or the thoughtful way the Short North's new Kroger was set near the sidewalk -- with less emphasis on the parking lot -- these are ways a city's design communicates its uses.

The second track is all about the people -- and for us you'll recognize just what a difference regular neighbors can make when you consider Village Connections and Southside STAY.

The third track -- called "Authentically You" -- is all of the ways communities create their niche by simply recognizing their uniqueness.

So, rather than build Disneyland, recognize the resources that naturally exist in your town or neighborhood that make you special and genuine.

Fourth, local values that create economic development opportunities -- so that might be the City's Kickstarter program (the very dollars that are helping fill in empty storefronts along Third Street, such as Seven Studios and City Paws).

Fifth, we want to talk about the tools and technology of great neighborhoods and great communities.

Additionally, on Tuesday night, Sept. 16, we're planning a speaker who will rally those of us making it happen in our neighborhoods every day.

This one isn't for the pros -- Tuesday night is for US. How do we unleash our passion and energy for the sake of our own neighborhoods and for the city as a whole?

And for German Village Society, the delight is both in partnering with our friends across the city and in charting the path to the next 54 years of neighborhood success (It happens to overlap beautifully with our strategic planning process, too).

Stay tuned for specific workshop topics, speaker names and tickets. They'll all be on our website very soon.

German Village Society Executive Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column.