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Big ideas were brewing in downtown York Saturday.

Even in the rain, community members gathered at several downtown locations and participated in up to 25 workshops with one common goal: to discuss and share ideas for positive change in York.

York's first Big Idea Saturday event was held as a continuation of the Impact Arts & Culture Conference at York College, where about 25 industry professionals spoke Thursday and Friday about professional development for artists, nonprofit management and community and economic development through the arts.

"We had amazing speakers come in and they are such thought leaders," conference organizer Kelley Gibson said. "We didn't want them to come in and leave."

Gibson invited them and other regional arts professionals to stay and lead discussions Saturday about topics ranging from the technological future of York to the hidden art of York. The idea was to reach out to locals who couldn't attend the conference Thursday and Friday, Gibson said.

"They get a chance to see and hear some of the cool things we got to hear (at the conference) in a more expanded way," she said.

York College sociology and anthropology professor Shelly Clay-Robison and Baltimore muralist Gaia kicked off the event at 10 a.m. with a walking tour and discussion of York's downtown murals.

During the tour, Clay-Robison pointed out to her group of about five that many of York's murals focus on the town's colonial and manufacturing history. But York is more than just history, she said, and it's important to show both locals and visitors what modern York is all about.

"I would really love to see more two-dimensional and three-dimensional art around the city that gets people talking about social problems, contemporary social issues," she said. "I'd like to see more things that encourage us to talk to each other across groups and consider different narratives."

While the rain kept some away from this walking tour and some of the other talks throughout the day, indoor events like the ones held at Martin Library were well-attended.

About 55 children stopped by conference keynote speaker Rachel Ramsay's workshop on making LED origami flashlights, Gibson said. And just around the corner, about six adults chose to participate in Story York, a video of locals discussing their ideas for a better York.

Rosa Luz Catterall, of Manchester Township, brought her three children to participate in both events.

"I just wanted my kids to be able to take part in such a wonderful event and not take it for granted," she said. "(Ramsay) is creating this movement of nurturing math and science with young girls, and I have a daughter who loves math and science, so I wanted to be able to nurture that."

Catterall said she also felt it was important to bring her children to share an idea for the future of York. She spoke in front of a camera about how she would love to be able to take her children to the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center to see family-friendly matinee films on a Saturday afternoon.

Other ideas from other participants ranged from hosting a Cardboard Build Day in York to implementing and creating awareness for a suicide-prevention program in schools.

Videographer Randy Flaum said he plans to show the video at York's next Creek Fire event on July 25 at Foundry Park. The video will also be aired on White Rose Community Television, he said, but the air date has not been finalized.

Story York was meant to give locals the opportunity to share what's on their mind and let their voices be heard, Gibson said.

"Hopefully, some of the ideas that came out become something we can talk about next year," she said. "I want people to get out of their head space and think about the future and the possibilities and have fun."

Contact Abbey Zelko at (717) 771-2051.

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Impact Arts and Culture Conference at York College offers creative development, networking (2014)

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