Are You Ready For WeDo? It’s Here
First there was Mia, and now WeDo (“wee-doo”), the short-and-sweet way to say West Downtown Cultural District, the new name for the 1.7-mile stretch of Hennepin Ave. from the Walker to the Mississippi between First Ave. and Nicollet Mall. Love it or not, it’s about to become part of our cultural landscape.
Unveiled Wednesday, WeDo is the result of a planning process that began in 2011, when Hennepin Theatre Trust won a $200,000 Our Town creative placemaking grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to re-invent Hennepin Avenue as an arts-inspired cultural corridor. There’s already an official website that looks crisp and clean, is easy to navigate and jam-packed with information about events, entertainment, sports, galleries, businesses, historic points of interest, restaurants and more. (And it’s mobile-friendly.) There are branded items like a hat and a scarf.
The journey to WeDo was led by the Trust in partnership with the Walker, Artspace (developer of the Cowles Center) and the city. During an extensive process dubbed “Plan-It Hennepin,” opinions and ideas were gathered from more than 1,500 downtown stakeholders. The name and branding were developed with expertise donated by Target Creative.
So there’s serious money, muscle and time behind this venture, and a lot of it makes sense. Forming a strong identity worked for the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA), leading to its recognition earlier this year as Best Arts District in America by USA Today. If WeDo can find its way into the public consciousness and stick, if it helps locals and visitors to perceive that stretch of Hennepin, which has its ups and downs, as a community, and if it helps it to become a community, with fewer empty storefronts, more shops and gathering spaces, friendlier and more inviting (especially for walkers), we’re all for it.
Some squawking about WeDo as a name has already begun (we love you, Secrets of the City, for real), but honestly, you can call yourself whatever you want as far as we’re concerned. If you’d like us to refer to you by the non-binary pronoun “they,” just let us know and we’ll do our very best, without irony. But we digress. One thing we won’t do is add the “TM” after WeDo. Thanks for skipping that part, Mia.