BY ANNA JENSEN
The “Drake Bubble” is a concept known to most. Campus, DogTown and Greek Street are the destinations for a majority of on- campus students because of the negative stigma that surrounds the nearby Drake neighborhoods.
Neighborhood members have collaborated with the university in attempts to fix this problem, starting with the introduction of a neighborhood farmers market.
The Drake Neighborhood Farmers Market features live entertainment, fresh fruits and vegetables from Iowan vendors and aims to strengthen the community between the Drake students and the surrounding neighborhood.
The neighborhood has had a farmers market in the past, but ended in 2012.
The new one began in May and is loosely based on the former market. It is now held on 26th Street and University Ave. every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. until the end of October.
“The market is more than just fruits and vegetables,” said Michael Cristl, president and treasurer of the board of directors and market coordinator. Instead of measuring success by attendance and revenue, Cristl measures it based on the meaningful conversation that is shared throughout the streets.
“The new market provides a great meeting space for the students and neighborhood (members) to interact and have conversations they wouldn’t otherwise,” said Nicholas Valdez, neighborhood and community relations manager.
Conversation could be instrumental in breaking through the “Drake Bubble”, allowing relationships to form outside of campus.
“This is a great way for Drake students to have something that is close (to campus) that is not scary or intimidating and allows them to meet members of the community,” Cristl said.
Even though they don’t share a dorm wall with students, they are still their neighbors and they should know them, Cristl said.
Since this is a relatively new development in the Drake community, marketing has been very important to get the word out to both the neighborhood and the students. Cristl has reached out to Drake Fraternity and Sorority Life, 94.1 The Dog and the Community Action Board.
CAB is the bridge between the university and the neighborhood and acts as an emissary to the community by finding students passionate about benefiting the community in which they live.
“Drake is a really good resource for community members, but if you don’t know anyone at Drake it can be challenging to find students who want to help,” said CAB President Gabriella Gugliotta.
Through marketing from posters and online, Gugliotta hopes to find passionate volunteers for the market and ultimately bridge the gap between Drake and its surrounding neighborhood.
The Drake neighborhood has a stigma that is completely inaccurate and CAB is trying to change that, said Gugliotta.
“We want students to know that more people than just their peers are living in this neighborhood,” Gugliotta said.
This neighborhood and campus divide has not been a problem at the market yet, Cristl said.
“The market is a great first step in regards to getting people to go outside the ‘Drake Bubble,’” said Gugliotta.
Cristl reached out to CAB in order to market to the university, but also to find students who want to become highly involved in the market and share their passion and creativity with their fellow students and neighbors.
“I’m 39. I have a lot to give, but you should have seen me at 16 or 17,” Cristl said.
As the market progresses, Cristl hopes it begins to be organized from year-to-year by Drake students. Cristl views the market as a stage open for students and neighbors to showcase their art.
“There is a ton of hidden talent in this neighborhood,” said Cristl. “Anything that is a potential benefit to the neighborhood has the opportunity to be showcased here.”