Inspired by my parents, looking ahead to a new year

Jon Rahl looks ahead to 2018.

Growing up, and even well into adulthood, I never imagined penning my own column. In retrospect, I had some help along the way. My dad would bring the sports section into my bedroom to get me up on Sunday mornings while my mom taught English and creative writing at my local high school for 30 years. Reading and writing were very important to them and in the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve lost them both.

Yet, with loss, comes remembrance and I think about the little things they did for me, my sister and our families quite often. When I sit down to write this column, it’s thoughts of them instilling in me the value of the written word. Mom, always telling me I could write well. Dad, understanding what I really liked to read, and fostering that good habit.

As we tie a bow on one year and welcome a new one, reflection is common. It’s healthy and important. I love that it draws me closer to my folks. I also love that it allows us to recap accomplishments and plan for the future. With that, here’s year seven of my look back and glimpse ahead. Happy New Year, Seaside!

In 2016 it became an official project. In 2017, we hired a project manager, architect and local construction company to push the needle further. Schematic and design development have been the tasks at hand for the past six months and are coming to a quick close. Construction is expected to begin this spring. Follow the project at seasideconvention.com/renovations.

One of my favorite projects this past year was engaging with Seaside High School and shop teacher Jeff Corliss to have them help us build an oversized Adirondack chair. Thirty students drafted, crafted and painted the furniture art that now adorns the front lawn of the visitors center. It’s already produced countless photo ops and spiked traffic into our info center.

Thanks in part to a grant from Clatsop County, we earmarked funds to create a series of how-to videos that tell people just how easy it is to visit and play in Seaside. Production yielded four videos in May and two in September. Advertising with three of the spots followed in the fall and more will come this spring. Watch them all at seasideor.com/seaside-stories.

Our Facebook page, Visit Seaside OR, took a stab at Facebook Live during the final half of 2017. You’ll see more of that and then some this year. With our tagline, “It’s Easy to Seaside,” as the guiding light, we envision more spontaneous and entertaining storytelling that shows people how and where to enjoy this coastal wonderland. Watch at facebook.com/VisitSeasideOR.

Are we at a crossroads with tourism? One in three jobs in Seaside is tied to leisure and hospitality. It’s beyond vital to our community. Yet, we need to ask if there’s a breaking point. Generations have visited Oregon’s North Coast and we want generations beyond to enjoy the same benefit. An Oregon Sustainability Studio is already established on this topic for our area and that’s an important first step.

It’s been two years in the making, but new town entry signs will greet locals and visitors arriving from the north and south by early January. The goal was to create a more inviting and inspiring welcome message, evoking the bright colors that reflect our 2015 rebranding efforts. Visitor Center signage and downtown wayfinding is the next item we’ll look at to create even stronger brand unification in 2018.

Have a thought or a question about tourism in Seaside, or maybe an idea for a future column? Drop me an email at jrahl@cityofseaside.us. Jon Rahl is the director of tourism for the Seaside Visitors Bureau and assistant general manager of the Seaside Civic & Convention Center.

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