Hanford California. Population 56 thousand, county seat of Kings County, population 151 thousand. In the middle of the Central Valley, 40 minutes south of Fresno, Hanford is known best for its historic buildings, and Superior Dairy Ice Cream Shoppe, established in 1929. In 1973 Hanford beat Berkley for the Helen Putnam Award for “Most Charming Downtown”, and up until the 90’s Downtown Hanford was the Valley’s hub for Jazz, Blues, and Country. Johnny Cash was on our Fox Theatre’s stage twice.
30 years later, corporate reigns, while our historic buildings are neglected until our City’s leadership, despite public protest, tear them down. Shops are empty, and City Management makes it difficult for new businesses to get started.
This is a common theme in America’s small towns today, but there are proven strategies to combat it, and people in every community willing to put in the work.
Downtown Hanford has already been in a transition back into the world of the living, but it still has a long way to go. In the summer we have a weekly Farmer’s Market, hosted by Main Street Hanford, which fills our downtown streets with people, produce, and food carts. Our Parks and Rec works with a valley radio station to bring up-and-coming country stars to Civic Park. And for the last two years I have organized a monthly Art Hop, where downtown shops are filled with local art, and live music.
From the bookstore I intend to facilitate the Downtown Revitalization conversation, and foster the action that’s needed to build a community that embraces creativity, art, culture, and its own potential.