City Improvement Group Loves Rainier

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Whether it’s adding flowers throughout town, encouraging a lawn competition or redoing the senior center sign, Rainier’s newest community betterment organization has been active.

The group, We Love Rainier, met for the second time last week, finding innovative ways to change its city’s eyesores and weak spots into achievements for the city.

“We Love Rainier is a celebration of Rainier, highlighting positive news, what we would like to see and where we are going,” said Charmayne Garrison, Rainier city administrator.

It all started when Rainier City Council member George Johnson, new to the council, came to a meeting with an armful of possible improvements to Rainier that he thought the city ought to implement.

George Sharp, rural program manager for Thurston Economic Development Council Center for Business and Innovation, was at the meeting and knew just what to do.    

Together, they founded We Love Rainier as a way for the community to come together and work on improvements to their city, a type of group that Sharp had seen work in the past.

We Love Rainier isn’t just a club that works on pet projects throughout the city, Johnson explained. Rather, it is a club that represents the entire city’s worth of pet projects.

“We’re just trying to bring the community together, and by that I mean the businesses, the city and the people that live in the city,” Johnson said. “We want to work on a bigger sense of community.”

At a typical meeting, participants bring in projects they would like to see done in Rainier.

“This is a lot of things to do, but this is working with the city,” Johnson said. “It’s not trying to get the city to do all these things. It’s a community effort. It’s only going to work if the entire community gets behind this.”

So We Love Rainier is left with a whole host of projects present all in one room at any given meeting, but there is no hierarchy of tasks to be handled, he said. Instead, members of the group voice their ideas and brainstorm with each other about other ideas.

Once the ideas are solid, they go up on a list so that someone with the skillset to carry out one particular idea can step forward. In this way, as talented people fill need after need, the town will become rejuvenated, Johnson said.

For example, at the meeting last week, it became apparent that the city was in need of a street sweeper. This year, the council had purchased a mower instead, Johnson said. One attendee saw that need and announced to the room that he sees street sweepers at auctions all the time, and will scout one out for the group.

At the first meeting, a man saw that Rainier was in need of a Christmas facelift come December, and agreed to be the one in charge of making Rainier into a winter wonderland, Johnson said.

“We really want to make Rainier a better place to live, a better place to open a business, a better place to shop, a better place to go to school and a better place for family,” Johnson said.

Along those lines, Rainier is ready to see a change toward the positive, he said.

“We have a lot of positive things in the community, we just want to accentuate those a little bit more, broaden the scope, bring some things in that we haven’t had before,” he said. “You know there’s a lot of experts that live in town, but everyone is living in different pockets — when you bring them all together, you can make things happen.”

Visit the “weloverainierwashington” page on Facebook for more information.

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