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Peak Immersive Learning: A Snapshot of Mobile Workshops Main Street Now 2023

February 7, 2023 | Peak Immersive Learning: A Snapshot of Mobile Workshops at Main Street Now 2023 |

A vendor serves beverages at the Roslindale Summer Farmers Market in 2022. Courtesy of Bruce Spero Photography.

Next month, Main Street leaders, place managers, and economic development practitioners from across the country will convene in Boston for three days of dynamic education sessions, thought-provoking keynote discussions, and countless opportunities to celebrate and connect at the 2023 Main Street Now Conference. In addition to 100+ crash course, deep dive, and panel-style sessions, the Main Street Now 2023 agenda includes 12 unique mobile workshops. These immersive learning experiences are packed with informative tours and tangible examples of locally-led community preservation and economic development efforts impacting communities in Boston and the surrounding area. A few have already sold out, but opportunities to witness time-tested Main Street Approach techniques and creative solutions in action abound with these six great excursions.

Conference registration is open, with regular rates available through March 16. Learn more about these mobile workshops here. Reserve your spot on a mobile workshop during registration by clicking here, or add it to your existing registration by clicking the link included in your registration confirmation email. Check out the conference website and follow the conference's Facebook and Twitter accounts for the latest updates.

Mission Hill Arts and Gastronomy, with a Dash of COVID Survival

Left: A colorful indoor mural welcomes visitors at Penguin Pizza in Mission Hill. Right: The vibrant and unique sign for Taven of Tales. Courtesy of Sean Hurley.

Mission Hill, Boston, Mass.
Mission Hill is home to architectural landmarks, magnificent views of Boston’s skyline and a vibrant culinary scene. This tour begins at the Museum of Fine Arts with a conversation on partnering with institutions in your community. From there the tour will be split in to 4 groups, with each visiting a different Mission Hill establishment: 1) Learn about survival techniques at The Mission Bar & Grill; 2) Hear inspired business sustainability ideas at Penguin Pizza; 3) Learn the importance of social media at Milkweed Café; 4) Discover an entirely new business plan at Tavern of Tales – Boston’s only board game bar!

Eye of the Commonweath Tour

Left: Black and white aerial photo of American Optical complex, circa 1935. Right: 12 Crane at Dusk. Courtesy of Optical Heritage Museum.

Southbridge, Mass.
Spend a day appreciating the place that played host to the advances in protective/corrective eyewear and their mass production, and learn about efforts to preserve and reimagine the historic structures, streets, and spaces of downtown Southbridge—the Eye of the Commonwealth. This historical walking tour of the core downtown area will include a review of public improvements, as well as an exploration of significant sites. Learn about the current reuse and development efforts underway at the American Optical campus, the unique materials used to construct the Pope John Paul II Church, the recently completed project to transform the Wells School from a former middle school to residences, and the evolution of the abandoned Providence/Worchester Railroad spur into the Quinebaug Valley Rail Trail. Admission to The Optical Heritage Museum, housed in a beautifully renovated meat packing plant at the trail’s head, is included. While there, enjoy a light lunch and explore the history of the optical industry through one of the largest collections of spectacle frames and ophthalmic optical items in the world.

Main Streets Affordable Housing & A Taste of Hyde Park

Left: A rendering of The Pryde affordable senior housing project. Courtesy of LGBTQ Senior Housing, Inc. Right: Rincon Caribeño, a popular Dominican restaurant in Hyde Park, with the owner standing outside the front door. Courtesy of Hyde Park Main Streets.

Hyde Park, Boston, Mass.
Join Hyde Park Main Streets Executive Director Thien Simpson and LGBTQ Senior Housing, Inc. Executive Director Gretchen Van Ness for a tour of The Pryde, Boston's first LGBTQ-welcoming affordable senior housing project. Learn about the efforts to leverage an adaptive reuse strategy to transform the former Barton Rogers Middle School into 74 mixed-income senior apartments developed through a universal design approach. Round out this informative experience with a tasting tour of the Hyde Park Main Streets district, known for its unique and resonant history, amazing cafes and eateries, lush green space, art galleries, theater, and diverse festivals.

Heart of the Commonwealth: Exploring Worcester

People gather at umbrella-covered picnic tables in front of Worcester City Hall. Courtesy of Erb Dufault Photography.

Worcester, Mass.
Experience downtown Worcester, Massachusetts, the second largest and fastest-growing major city in New England. The tour kicks off at City Hall with discussion about the history of the city and recent developments downtown which include class-A office developments, urban housing, upscale dining, and a new art gallery and performing arts theatre. Then enjoy free time to explore on your own and grab refreshments from a downtown café or eatery, followed by a short drive to Polar Park, home of the Worcester Red Sox, for a brief tour of the brand-new stadium. This visit to the Heart of the Commonwealth concludes with a walk to the nearby Worcester Public Market in the city’s vibrant Canal District, and an opportunity to check out the area’s retail and food purveyors.

Discover B.RIGHT.ON Scavenger Hunt Tour

Left: Vibrant and unique signs promote locally-owned small businesses on Washington Street in Brighton. Right: Oak Square with flowers in full bloom. Courtesy of Brighton Main Streets.

Brighton, Boston, Mass.
Are you looking for a handcrafted, customized scavenger hunt adventure you’ll never forget? This Discover B.RIGHT.ON tour is for you! Carefully combining both an in-person and online app-based components, this tour route will guide you through 8-10 sights of the Brighton neighborhood and business district, including time for enjoying food, beverages, and whatever catches your eye. Form your own team of 5 (great for teambuilding with local or coordinating program) or choose to be assigned to a group (perfect for meeting new people and growing your network). The adventure is sure to help you explore Brighton, laugh, discover, and connect – this is memory making at its funnest!

Art is the Handmaid of Human Good: A Tour of Lowell’s Historic, Cultural, and Innovation Assets

Left: Boot Mills. Courtesy of National Park Service. Right: Market Street Mural. Courtesy of City of Lowell, Cultural Affairs and Special Events office.

Lowell, Mass.
Lowell is an historic mill city in northeastern Massachusetts. Its rich history includes being the birthplace of Jack Kerouac before he famously went “On the Road,” as well as the present-day home to a large immigrant community. This tour features visits to four different sites that demonstrate how the city and nonprofit partners support small businesses, start-ups, artists, and historic preservation efforts in a holistic and collaborative manner. Visits to Downtown Lowell, the Hamilton Canal Innovation District, Mill No. 5, and Western Ave Studios and Lofts will give tour-goers a glimpse of how arts, culture, innovation, and historic preservation can support a thriving, diverse community and regional economy.

Whether you are interested in history and historic preservation, arts and culture, adaptive reuse and redevelopment, or local food and retail trends, the mobile workshops at Main Street Now 2023 offer something for everyone! It may be difficult to decide which to choose, but combined with amazing session offerings, it will be impossible to return from Boston without feeling empowered and inspired.

Learn more about these mobile workshops here and be sure to secure your reservation soon! Conference registration is open, with regular rates available through March 16. Reserve your spot on a mobile workshop during registration by clicking here, or add it to your existing registration by clicking the link included in your registration confirmation email.