Who are we? What makes us unique? Why do people want to come here? As we continue the path of revitalization for Bernardsville, these are crucial questions we need to ask ourselves before taking any more steps for growth. If we don’t understand our core and set a solid foundation, we’ll simply topple over like a troubled game of Jenga. This is the current focus of Downtown Bernardsville, a 501(c)4 non profit organization started in 2018 and fully devoted to the revitalization of Bernardsville’s downtown and business district.
Over the last year and a half, Downtown Bernardsville, has been traveling a unique journey. The inspiration started as an ad hoc committee under Mayor Kevin Sooy, but within a few months, politics halted our progress. Since I never accept defeat, keeping things going as a separate, non profit entity was the logical next step. All I really wanted to do was organize a festival for our community. With years in event planning and marketing, it seemed like the next logical way for me to utilize my experience for the good of our town.
Since those first few months, we’ve organized a Trunk or Treat, Cookie Crawl, Restaurant Week, and Dad’s Day Dash 5K. Now, we are about to start the cycle again with the FallFest Trunk or Treat on October 26th, but what are these events for, anyway? Why are we continuing to do more, including acquire a board of directors, and grow as an organization with active agendas and projects and create reliable resources for our entire community? Because Bernardsville needs it.
Just like any business, having a strategy for growth is a requirement. Its not just about doing a few fun events or making the sidewalks a little neater, it is having a clearly defined understanding about what it means to be Bernardsville. Who are we? What purpose do we serve as a community? Having this answer will help every single detail put towards the revitalization effort succeed. Without it, we’ll continue putting new blocks on the wobbly base of that Jenga game and eventually watch it fall. Only to have to start over again and see the same process over and over again.
So how do we get that solid foundation? We communicate. Every quarter, Downtown Bernardsville hosts a community meeting to talk about what we are working on and involve residents, business owners, property owners and any other individuals invested in Bernardsville to contribute to the conversation. Our last meeting on July 11 started this question of “Who are we?” and we implore everyone to keep it going. Visit DowntownBernardsville.com/WhySurvey to add your thoughts. We’ll have this survey open until September 15 and discuss the results at our next community meeting on October 17th.
Just like many other aspects of business and personal growth, Bernardsville requires branding. While I, and/or our board of directors, can make the decision for us, we would rather involve the entire community to understand what we want and who we want to be as a town. From there, Downtown Bernardsville will be your representative, your voice to the general public. We will work with other groups on elements of design, expand our events calendar to bring shoppers and diners to town, begin to fill empty storefronts, and be THE resource Bernardsville can rely on for information, recommendations, and resources.
Start at DowntownBernardsville.com and give us your feedback, contribute news and/or content, join a committee, and get on board any way that works for you, because THIS is how we will become a better Bernardsville.