Monday, June 23, 2014

Downtown Dining Wishes

Happy Restaurant Week! Share some thoughts on DTSB dining?
Last fall we posted I wish this was... stickers in the windows of vacant storefronts in downtown South Bend.  This project was a fun way to offer more community members a means of sharing their ideas for revitalization efforts downtown . We also sought to plant seeds for further civic engagement and broader ownership of the South Bend Renaissance. We got a lot of really great ideas (so many Trader Joe fans out there!) and a few that we can’t mention in decent company.  We were excited to see the ways people interacted with each other through the stickers, reminding folks that there WAS in fact a card shop in DTSB when it was suggested, for example. 
Several people responded that they wished for Vegetarian , Gluten Free or other specialty restaurants catering to  their dietary restrictions & preferences so this seemed like a great place to start in conjunction with Summer Restaurant Week. In taking the sticker information and actually DOING something with it we take another step closer toward our goal of creating a more dynamic downtown where everyone can find something that fits for them.  After talking to a few of the restaurateurs and some of the people who contributed this response, we realized that more information is required to really determine what the needs may be.  Some of the questions we’ve considered are; Is there a dearth of options available to vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diners, OR do we need to do a better job of identifying the options already available at restaurants? How do South Benders as well as visitors to our community find these options? And other questions as well. 
To that end, we’re kicking off a DTSB dining preferences survey in conjunction with Restaurant Week to get more information from all of you and your friends and family. This short survey looks at dietary needs and restaurant preferences. It also gives you a chance to share your contact info if you’d like to be further involved in implementing projects aimed to make the downtown dining scene easier to navigate for vegetarians, vegans, and gluten free folk.  We’ll follow up with a survey to the restaurateurs and figure out what options and systems are already in place. Then we’ll make recommendations for moving forward toward accommodating the needs identified through the surveys.
This is an exciting opportunity to figure out how to get more people eating downtown as our City continues to undergo a Renaissance of awesome proportions. DTSBHead over to:DTSB Dining Preferences Survey shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Please also share with your friends and family, we want all the diversity of South Bend to be represented in the data, whether you eat meat or not!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Getting back in gear!

After a winter hiatus, we've been gathering the responses from the stickers and getting ready to launch the next steps of the project. Surprising to no one, Trader Joe's was a pretty popular selection. We noticed, however that a lot of the stickers called for "vintage" type shops. Below are some of the responses from the former LaSalle Hotel windows. Stay tuned for more info soon!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Ignite Michiana!

Sharing the story of the Wish stickers at Ignite Michiana in November in Downtown South Bend, and again in January at Notre Dame was a lot of fun. Check out the video below for the presentation!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What do you Wish for the retail space at LaSalle Hotel?

For Immediate Release:

> October 23, 2013: With the announcement of the conversion of the former LaSalle Hotel to apartment units, attention turns to the retail space available on the ground floors. Through the "I Wish This Was" project community members have had the opportunity to share their ideas for what they'd like to see in DTSB at this location. Contributing ideas through stickers on the windows of the LaSalle Hotel building, people have highlighted their wishes for shops, restaurants and services. Some of these wishes include; a gym, arts & crafts store, children's center, record/music store, coffeehouse, nail/hair salon, pharmacy and more.

>The "I Wish This Was" sticker campaign is a low cost platform for community engagement with an online tool for broader discussion. Stickers provide a forum for all people to share their ideas for vacant businesses on the spot. Community members are encouraged to share their contact information at if they are interested in further discussing their ideas through focus groups. These groups will categorize and flesh out ideas to identify needs expressed by participants and organize them for developers/ entrepreneurs. In addition, wishes will be shared with current DTSB  business owners to determine if these needs can be met within existing stores, restaurants or programs. In conjunction with the Code For America fellows, the CityVoice technology also offers a phone-in alternative for those wishing to share more detailed thoughts or respond to others' ideas. (

The primary goal of this program is to give  a voice to community members not often invited to the table to discuss revitalization efforts downtown and plant the seeds for further empowerment and ownership of development planning. In addition to the former LaSalle Hotel, Targeted properties currently include the Brazy building, Center City Plaza and Jefferson Center. For more information see or contact Mara Trionfero at

The State, South Bend
214 1/2 S. Michigan St.
South Bend, IN 46601

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I love the way people are entering into discussion about the wishes for DTSB through the stickers!  If you look closely above, you can see the comments letting people know that there IS a card shop next door, that there IS a tattoo parlor downtown and the name of WHO to contact about a record store.  This is what the Wish project is about, dialogue and equal access for participation.  It goes beyond the stickers though... All of the ideas will be categorized and we'd like to hold informal meetings/ focus groups for the categories to flesh out ideas a little more before we bring them to entrepreneurs and developers.  If you're interested in sitting in on one of these discussions, please share your email and we'll contact you by the end of November.  Also remember, you can offer lengthier thoughts through the Cityvoice option ( or here in the comments of this blog.  Get engaged and keep the wishes coming!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Call in your Wishes!!

Good news to those of you wishing for something particular from afar... there's a call-in option for the I Wish This Was project.  Thanks to our friendly Code for America Fellows, you can go over to, click on a property to get its code and share your ideas over the phone.  Even better, you'll get to hear others' ideas!
We've got stickers up on the former LaSalle Hotel storefronts, Brazy building between CJ's and Back Stage Grill, Jefferson Center next to SB Choc Co and Center Plaza next to the DTSB offices-
Think about what you wish was there...  stop by to add it to the posted stickers or call it in today from the convenience of wherever you are ;)  Stay tuned for an update on the ideas we've heard so far!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Brazy Building

Looking forward to seeing what ideas people have to share in these lovely windows!