Arsons of Ideas – Saving Downtowns with the Fred Factor

January 21, 2007

“Timothy Bishop doesn’t go out and rebuild downtowns. He is an arson who lights fires in the hearts and minds of downtown citizens.” – Pug Ostling

In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 they burned books. In Ellensburg, Washington, they are igniting fires in their business community by reading them.

Yes, Timothy Bishop and a lot of other people are in the process of saving downtown Ellensburg. (See Just Try to Stop This Downtown Train). Their association has started a book club specifically for the downtown merchants – to read and discuss ideas that can re-energize their businesses.

Here’s a link to the full list of books to be discussed this year at Brown Bag Business Basics, just in case you want to join in. It’s a cooperative project of the Ellensburg Public Library and the Ellensburg Downtown Association.

You’ll notice that on February 15 they will be discussing Mark Sanborn’s The Fred Factor.

That ought to be enough time for us to get Mr. Sanborn to offer up a little “value added” tidbit for Tim’s book club. You see, Mark wrote an article for our blog recently and has been hanging around asking how else he can be of service. And Bishop is getting ready to reinvent their fundraising effort for what he calls “Round 2.”

We think Mark will be glad to help the book club as he will surely recognize these four “Ellensburg Factor Principles:”

  1. Nobody, and I mean nobody, can prevent Ellensburg from being exceptional.
  2. The quality of Timothy Bishop’s relationships is evident from the nationwide donations and the comments from Pug Ostling, David Burris and Shelly Schlumpf on Just Try to Stop this Downtown Train.
  3. Not that they have much choice, but the Ellensburg Downtown Association is doing it all with ingenuity, imagination and pluck – not dollars.
  4. Ellensburg is truly reinventing itself – combining the talents of a book club, the D&M Coffee Shops, Alpha Kappa Psi and lots of other volunteers.

Yes, “Fred Ellensburg” we call them.

Here’s Pug Ostling again, to close today’s ceremonies. But, before we do that – please, log on to www.savedowntown.org and donate $10 or more to this good effort. Here’s Pug:

“On the economic chessboard of Ellensburg’s future, King Wal-mart, Queen K-mart, et al, position themselves to gobble up the small pawns of independent merchants; corral the knights and horses; and monopolize the formerly castle-controlled real estate. But for what it’s worth, my money’s on The Bishop.”

And the Fred Factor. Stay tuned.


  1. What a great treasure, Downtown Ellensburg is, and what a gem they found in Timothy Bishop. I’ve been around Timothy and watched him work for many years. His knowledge, enthusiasm and spark will be a great motivator for Ellensburg (and many other downtown who could learn something as well). As a former Downtown Manager myself, the Main Street program is a great model to change the way a downtown looks yet assists those around it to jump on the train and change as well. It takes a community to raise a child, yet it takes a strong downtown to change a community.

  2. I found the brown bag seminar worthwhile. Gary and Tim did a find job.
    Wish there had been even more businesses represented – we might have been preaching to the choir.

  3. We’ve just enjoyed our second Brown Bag Business Basics presentation The Fred Factor.By watching the people jotting down notes and the discussion we had afterwards this luncheon looks like it will become an event that people will look foward to attending.As I was running out of the store to attend I had other business people ask were was I going, I told them and their response was “Oh yeah I want to go to that lunch”.So I belive as we have more presenters and people continue to talk about what the book was and how we are using the information at our stores this will become huge and very sucessful for the Ellensburg Downtown Association and helpful to the people who attend.By having events like these the Ellensburg Downtown Association is creating energy and excitement in the downtown.

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