It has been months since we’ve seen many of you in Central Square. To keep each other safe during COVID-19, we were effectively asked to abandon all the places that make Central feel like home: our small businesses, cultural organizations, and public spaces. Our team has stayed the course: securing essential public safety infrastructure, partnering with neighborhood leaders on food security initiatives, and writing emergency relief legislation in support of our main streets and squares across the Commonwealth, all while continuing to clean and sanitize the Square.
What will Central Square be like in a few months, a year? We don’t know. What we do know is that we planned as best we could to welcome you back now, with two simple words and a lot of pink.
Beginning this week, you’ll see that simple phrase everywhere in Central Square. You’ll also see social distancing and public safety reminders, as well as wayfinding and window signage that lets you know which of your favorite restaurants and retailers is open for what, when. All in the same “Positivity Pink.” We used every available surface to reinforce messages of safety and solidarity.
This is all part of a district-wide campaign to support our small business and arts community and help residents feel safe as they resume daily activities in Central Square. Affectionately named Project Neighbor by our collaborators at the global design firm IDEO (big shoutout to Bri, James, Brian, and Christina), this sprint project began on May 1st with a few guiding questions:
- What needs to be in place in order to safely welcome back our neighbors, businesses, and visitors to a Central Square that is still vibrant and connected?
- How will Central Square safely welcome back the public as mandated closures relax, understanding that social distancing protocol will continue to be enforced in the public realm?
- What system of wayfinding can we create to direct people to open businesses and services, but also reinforce social distancing?
- What are the most important messages to be communicating/reinforcing?
- How can we do this in a compassionate way?
In two weeks, the IDEO team created a system of color, iconography, and messaging that kindly and clearly communicates that the BID is unified in its efforts to safely welcome people back to Central Square. Given that safety guidelines are continuously changing, the campaign was designed to be simple and flexible, so small business owners can take the concepts forward in ways that suit them best.
By painting the town pink, we also hope to bring back some joy and energy to the most colorful district in Cambridge. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see more public art going up as well. We teamed up with our friend Rixy to turn storefronts and fixtures into canvases for expression, inviting young voices to speak their truth during this historic time.
This is one way to show how much we care about Central Square. We believe it was and always will be essential to this community. Let’s join together to keep it that way.