We often think of being creative as a solo act, something we do by ourselves – painting pictures, composing songs, writing stories. The people of the Mercer Street Grassroots District in Princeton, WV show us how creativity flourishes in numbers and it is at the root of opportunity. The formation of The RiffRaff Arts Collective and their renovation of a historic property in the heart of downtown sparked momentum in 2006.
And now with more than 15 years of investment and countless hours of sweat equity, engagement of hundreds of residents in both creative work and strategic planning, the Mercer Street Grassroots District has bloomed. And it’s not only the members of The RiffRaff Arts Collective who are pushing forward these dreams. Many residents – both creative and community-minded people – have been a part of making it happen, like the team working at a nonprofit called Community Connections who have been a part of redeveloping the local historic theatre and many other projects.
Now, in the Mercer Street Grassroots District, visitors can tour small businesses like a fine art gallery filled with local artists, a nostalgia-themed toy store, a specialty coffee shop, and a restaurant with in-house-made kombucha. Public art murals adorn many of the buildings, and an artist’s alley showcases the creative community’s heart and soul. Opportunities abound.