The Biggest Little Culture

                Take a moment and think of East 4th street.

                If you’re from Reno, then chances are I could guess what thoughts just went through your head; thoughts of homeless shelters, drugs, and prostitutes (or to put it more poetically, homeless hookers on heroine).

                That’s what East 4th street in Reno has made us think of for years, even generations.  So what are the odds that we could change that image?  What would it take for the people of Reno and our future generations to have a more positive image in their minds when they think of that neighborhood?  How can the image of that neighborhood be revitalized?  The answer, in short, is You.

                The question on the minds of a group of business owners along East 4th street and the surrounding areas is, “How do we get You to come down here?”  Some of the businesses are old standbys, ones that have been there for decades, while others are only a month or two old.  Under the Rose Brewery is one of those newer businesses.  It’s built inside the old Nevada Welding Works building.

                The back part of the building, which was originally a welding and iron working shop, is large and open.  The sides of the room are lined with brewery equipment that is constantly operating, creating new batches of their delicious beer.  The front part of the building is a bar, with the usual bar games of darts, foosball, and ping pong, but also the unusual fixture of a bocce ball court set up along one side of the room.  Try to name another bar where you can drink a quality craft beer while enjoying an indoor game of bocce ball.

                Scattered throughout the neighborhood is a nightclub, another brewery (built INSIDE the old SPCA building.  For those of you that spent time with me there during my four years of working for the shelter, it’s pretty awesome to see.).  There’s Louis’ Basque Corner, over a dozen artist studios, The Reno Bike Project, a handful of eclectic shops, and other unique businesses. 

                But still, despite some new businesses moving in, a huge number of the buildings in the neighborhood are sitting empty.  I won’t lie to you; the majority of the neighborhood does still feel somewhat destitute.  That’s where we come in…

                This neighborhood is full of nothing but local business, and every single one is just as creative and unique as the next.  This neighborhood is only the latest one to join in the movement of revitalizing Reno’s culture.  Before now there has been the Riverwalk, Midtown, and a handful of others.  So far, those other neighborhoods have been successful.  But none of them have had to fight against the stigma that comes along with East 4th street. 

                Nonetheless, Reno’s cultural footprint is changing.  We’re abandoning the old stereotype of Vegas’ dirty, little sibling.  We’re leaving behind the thought of old, smoke filled casinos and a different vice around every corner.  Instead, throughout town, individual neighborhoods are sprouting up, filled with local craft breweries, unique restaurants, and shops, the like of which you won’t find anywhere else. 

                Reno is developing in to something new altogether.  It’s somehow maintaining its small town persona while managing to grow in size.  It’s almost as if Reno is striving to become the southernmost point of the cultural behemoth that is the Pacific North West. 

                The district of East 4th street is simply the newest area to step up to the plate and help Reno change its image.  But it’s also the neighborhood that has faced the largest challenge in doing so thus far.  So I implore you to go out, meet the owners of these new and old businesses, and spread the word.  Get out and see what Reno is becoming, and see what you can do to help it. 

                Every day that passes, Reno is more and more in the national spotlight.  With tourism growing, large businesses from across the country flocking here (come on Tesla, you know you want to build in Reno), and local businesses booming, we are growing in to something different and something new right before the world’s eyes.

                So help me leave behind the tired old facade of the Divorce Capitol of the World, and let’s shape this town in to what WE want it to be.  If we want the world to view us differently, we need to do so first.