Our very own Etch A Sketch

The following is part five in a series detailing the efforts of UI students as they work alongside influential Las Vegas entrepreneurs, including Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, to help reimagine the city’s downtown area. View the full series.

Note: Students are also posting Twitter Updates throughout the week using the “ReiDT” hashtag, while more official updates can be found via the group’s dedicated Twitter account.

Story by Chelsea Gaylord
Photos by Chelsea Gaylord, Elizabeth Bledsoe and Sevy Perez

Reimagine Downtown
Many of these ideas, once partially sketched out, were immediately rejected–our “idea Etch A Sketch” flipped over and shaken.

Arriving in Las Vegas, we were greeted with a basket of goodies welcoming us to The Ogden and serving as a survival kit for the week. These goodies ranged from bananas and protein bars to ring pops and the March issue of the Zappos Employee Newsletter.

However, there was one “treat” that was left in this basket that immediately struck me: an Etch A Sketch. In a way, the Etch A Sketch can serve as a metaphorical representation for the manner in which Reimagining Downtown Fellows have worked to build a better downtown.

We began with a blank slate, attempting to distinguish and define a problem we were trying to solve. We began twisting the knobs, moving left and right, up and down, plotting out our thoughts and ideas. Many of these ideas, once partially sketched out, were immediately rejected–our “idea Etch A Sketch” flipped over and shaken. Other ideas became a little more detailed, never being erased, just work-shopped and altered piece by piece. We took these plans and ideas with us to Las Vegas in hopes of further shaping our ideas.

It’s amazing how being “in the field” has shaped those ideas. We’ve been exposed to a host of passionate, inspiring individuals. Each member involved in the Downtown Project is an expert in their area of work. Being exposed to all of their knowledge, we have become a collage of all of these people.

Today, we were given the opportunity to meet with the people who could help us better define each of our ideas. We ran around the downtown area making arrangements for coffee dates and meet ups. I was able to meet with local professionals to hear their ideas regarding health care issues. A classmate and I also were also given the chance to go to a food tasting for a new Early Childhood Center lunch program, which is currently focusing on healthy lunches and snacks for young children.

Other groups traveled around as well, speaking with individuals in the arts and creating greener spaces in the downtown community.

We now regroup to return to our metaphorical Etch A Sketch. However, the difference is that we no longer turn the left and right knobs individually. We’re no longer creating up and down in straight, easily defined lines. An idea to impact the downtown area of Las Vegas needs originality and something new outside of the hard and fast lines we attempt to create. We have realized that we must work both at the same time, creating angles and curves in our design. In this way, we will create a permanent, lasting idea in the community.