A McClain graduate, and now an architect in Kentucky, is hoping to provide direction to Greenfield and help residents see the possibilities for the town’s rejuvenation by becoming engaged in the process of making the possibilities a reality.
Being from Greenfield, Doug Karnes visits the town a lot. He said through the years, he has always seen some things here and there and prefaced his thoughts on the town with, “It sure would be nice if…”
That, coupled with comments from people saying, “I wish someone would do something,” prompted Karnes to action. So, he said, “I decided to do something.”
And so was born the concept of Designing Greenfield, a forum for the study of Greenfield and the challenges it faces “heading into the next decade and beyond,” Karnes said on Designing Greenfield’s Facebook page. The page is also a place for the sharing of ideas and providing feedback.
Every other week, Karnes travels from Louisville to Greenfield and sets up shop in a downtown storefront at 317 Jefferson Street.
He has spent his time taking an inventory of the village: homes, businesses, historical buildings, etc. He has provided photos and sketches with thoughts on the Facebook page and invited any and all feedback.
The point of it all is not only to provide direction for the village and its residents, but to get residents engaged in the process of not just seeing what is possible, but making those possibilities a reality.
Karnes is providing these services to the village and the people that call it home for free and is hopeful that his actions will serve to prompt more people to get involved.
He said a comment he once saw on the Facebook page asked, “Is (Greenfield) possible to turn around?”
And Karnes said he thought, “Around from what?”
He said if the village and its people are content to keep things the same, that is fine. But if viable projects come from this study and there is progress and growth built on what Greenfield already has, then, according to Karnes, that’s a good thing.
Local blogger and Greenfield resident Larry Chapman recently wrote in his blog that he had studied other small towns that had successfully rejuvenated themselves, and he said the one thing he found that they all had in common was a plan.
“Right now, there is no plan,” Karnes said.
Taking a pictorial inventory of the town and conceptualizing the possibilities are just one part of what Karnes hopes to achieve with the project. He said it’s also about providing some direction, getting the residents involved, helping them to see what is right there, getting the motivation fires stoked and getting them to join in the vision of what could be.
On the Facebook page, some of the photos and sketches are of historical buildings in the downtown area. In one post, he specifically discusses the town’s largest historical building complex in the 200 block of Jefferson Street. He remarks on the unique character of the building and said that a structure like this is not something that can be readily found in other small towns in southern Ohio.
In another post he speaks of Paint Creek on the east edge of town as one of Greenfield’s “natural gifts.”
He said to him, and likely to others, the creek has always sort of seemed “like an afterthought.” But, he ties the creek in with the historical buildings on that side of Greenfield, with the railroad, and the old burying ground, too, and said that he envisions a “Heritage Campus” encompassing the whole area.
These are just two of the many ideas that Karnes has discussed on the Facebook page.
He said he has talked to a couple of people since beginning the study who have told him that they are willing to invest and they want to be involved; however, they also said they are unsure of the next step. So, Karnes is hopeful that with the feedback and involvement on the Facebook page, discussions with community members, and the like, residents can have the direction and momentum to create a vision of where they want their town to go.
As a part of that, Karnes is hosting a series of open house/presentations, the first of which is set for Dec. 10 at the Grain & Hay building.
The open house will be from 6 to 7 p.m., and the presentation will be from 7 to 8 p.m.
Tuesday’s presentation will be about the existing conditions of Greenfield and will include a PowerPoint, maps, and photographs. Two other presentations are planned for April and July and will cover the vision for the future and specific projects, respectively.
Karnes encourages anyone interested to attend the presentation as well as to follow Designing Greenfield’s Facebook page. He can be contacted by message on Facebook and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.