The program “A City’s Center: Rethinking Downtown,” will be hosted for free by the Jefferson County Library at 6:30 p.m., Friday, May 9, at the Rodriguez Annex, 134 S.E. E St., Madras.

An Oregon Humanities program, it will be presented by Nan Laurence, who is the senior planner for the city of Eugene.

Historically, a city's downtown core has been the community's cultural and economic center, expressing shared values and aspirations. Today, however, many downtowns represent a community's social and economic distress.

Cities of all sizes are trying to revitalize their downtowns, but the qualities essential to this revitalization remain elusive. Laurence will explore the changing character of downtown activities, urban forms, and public spaces and lead participants in a conversation about how downtowns can represent a community’s ideals and aspirations.

Her professional responsibilities have emphasized value-based planning and public engagement with the goal of creating communities that are truly livable, sustainable, and beautiful.

Laurence has led a number of long-range planning and visioning efforts, and helped to identify key issues and decision points for community members and appointed and elected officials.

Her role is to help the downtown urban form and activities more closely reflect the community's vision. Laurence has a master of architecture degree from the University of Virginia, a master of city and regional planning degree from Cornell University, and a bachelor of arts in anthropology/sociology from Earlham College.

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