On Thursday February 11th Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) had the pleasure of hearing Kristin Cypher of Michael Baker International speak about Inventorying Assets and Activating Places in communities across the state! 

Why is it important to identify assets?

  • See your everyday space with fresh eyes

  • Engage with your community  

    • Those that don’t usually have a voice at the table, how to get them to participate 

    • Meet people where they are 

    • Meeting people physically in their space 

    • Temporary activations- easy, quick

  • Identify special and unique community places 

    • Ghost town

    • Crestone 

    • Longmont Museum 

    • Paonia - winery area  

What is an asset?

  • Think of creative areas of opportunity  - Trinidad example

  • Unique cultural & historic places and resources   - creative districts 

  • Gathering places, hang out places, destinations - both existing places and potential places

Questions to ask yourself when identifying assets

  • What is your superpower? 
  • What is your critical weakness?
  • Who is your greatest nemesis?
  • What is you origin story?

Identify what are you passionate about & where in your community can that be realized

What is the engine that drives your community? 

Activations can tell a different story

What is one word to describe assets in your community? 

  • Underused
  • Opportunities
  • Neglected 
  • Ripe
  • Disconnected 
  • Overlooked
  • Activation Plan 

What does it mean to activate a space?

  • Activated uses & events - with COVID - automobile space to people space

  • Activated Redevelopment - vacant storefront and use  --- pop up space of further area - burst of an event, show what can be done there

  • Activated Preservation 

Success Stories

  • Vacant lot activation

    • Lamar - more active and community members, vacant lot in middle of downtown

    • Meeting people where they are - use materials that are accessible and ways to reach out to people 

    • Lights, chairs, tables, heat

      • Programming - food truck, artist come, games, live music 

    • Led to creating available funding for more permanent activation - community driven and funded   - created 

    • Gathering space now -- used by community and as regional space 

  • Historic Storytelling Activation 

    • Littleton 

    • Wanted to tell story of history 

    • Creative signs spread throughout the city 

    • Catch people where they already are - hanging around areas ex: in front of performance center where people wait in line for show  

    • Carried 

  • Art, Culture & Connection Activation

    • Lakewood

    • Creative district

    • Artistic Community 

    • Start with temporary stuff - murals, temporary tree pieces 

    • Turn into permanent 

    • Beautify space - activate vacant property  

    • Meet people where they were  

Some crazy ideas for activation

  • Yarnbombing 

  • Outdoor Library 

  • Vacant lots - outdoor dining with multiple restaurants seating

  • Street Murals

  • Use your spaces to ask people what they want to do in the spaces

  • Pop-ups

  • Food trucks, spaces for food trucks

  • Pop up main street

Goal for activation  - more vibrancy, see the potential for your community

What is your activation idea?

  • Street, sidewalk murals
  • Pocket park - how they would like to use it
  • Stencil a logo
  • Using natural resources - temporary things -- haybale 
  • Chalk crosswalk 
  • Pop up bike lane  
  • Food Trucks 

Often the ideas are much easier to get than City permission. How much do you suggest engaging City staff? Oftentimes they can be great, but they also often have more rigid supervisors that lack creativity and say no. How do you balance all the community time and energy with naysayers and obstructionists in the City government?

Engage with city council early on in the process 

  • Walk along and show ideas 
  • Involve them as part of it
  • Rally your voices - so have something other than naysayers
  • Encourage city council to fill out community asset form 
  • Think about users, different perspectives
  • Build groundwork out 

Stand on stronger foundation - special places are, tell special stories

Kristin's Worksheets for asset identifying and community activation planning

Community Asset Plan Worksheet

Community Activation Plan Worksheet

Kristin Cypher 

Michael Baker International

[email protected]


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