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About The Dalles chronicle. (The Dalles, OR) 1998-2020 | View Entire Issue (March 7, 2020)
S P E C I A L
Weekend of March 7-8, 2020 A5
S E C T I O N
in the company of excellence
for Main Street
Connections key in building downtown vitality
The Dalles Chronicle
Don Warren, president of the The Dalles
Main Street Program board, has been making
connections throughout his working life.
It started in 1984, when he started work as a software
engineer back in the “floppy disk” age of computers,
putting together software implementation
management tools, he explained. “It was software
that allowed the prediction of the costs of putting
a system into the marketplace,” he explained. “It
let the company know what the costs would be.”
He then began setting up such systems himself,
working for ISC Systems Corp. of Spokane to
help develop and setup hardware and software
for the banking industry. ISC made it, and
developed it, and Warren put it together. “It was
everything you needed to run a bank branch,
all of the banking equipment,” he said.
After a time, he returned to school, and actually
worked at a bank in the Seattle area. It was
familiar territory, but not for him. “I hated it,” he
said. “I wondered how I would do as a computer
salesman.” Not bad, but he eventually went
back to Spokane and worked as a contractor.
It was while doing a contract that he met his
wife, Terry Lee, and in 1992 became a “functional
analyst” working with Boeing, creating digital
plane manuals. Such manuals are extremely
detailed, he said, and have to account for every
part in a jet. “Every part in a plane is in there;
the manual keeps track of every bolt.”
He then shifted to writing technical manuals
for the F-16 fighter jet. “I always told myself I
wouldn’t do weapons,” he said, but was offered
double pay. The work didn’t sit well, however,
Don Warren, president of the The Dalles Main Street Program board, stands outside the program’s
office on Second Street downtown The Dalles.
and he quickly found work with Nordstrom in
the “infrastructure work group,” making sure
all the systems worked together; setting up
power and cable management at their facilities,
teaching the technical staff how to maintain and
troubleshoot the equipment. Stores, warehouses
and catalogue systems were all in the mix.
He became a “corporate technological
infrastructure expert” and in 2000 went to work
for Microsoft, where he stayed for 10 years.
His role shifted and changed: from connecting
and linking technology, he began working with
people as part of a mergers and acquisitions group.
“People fail to be pragmatic and realistic,” he
said, as they are deciding whether or not to buy a
property or merge with a company. “I helped them
pull together a process,” he said. He described it
as business architecture, aided by technology.
These days, Warren is partially retired, working
in web development for United Parcel Service.
“I’m back to my roots; I’m a
programmer again,” he said.
That job leaves him time to use his technical
and corporate experience as a volunteer
with The Dalles Main Street Program. You
could call it community building, aided by
technology. But not overwhelmed by it.
Sometimes technology becomes intrusive or causes
problems, he said, but it has its place. “Technology
is a tool. If you hand somebody a hammer,
there are always people who will hit themselves
in theforehead. It’s a matter of use and fit.”
Social media is that way, he said. During the
city’s recent bid to be featured on the program
“Small Business Revolution,” social media was
an important tool in getting the word out about
The Dalles. It expanded the reach and power of
Mark Gibson photo
the community voice, he explained. But social
media can’t do everything. “People need to talk
more face to face. There is limited expression in a
text or email. There is no voice, no tone, no body
language, no facial expression,” he said. “We have to
make time to get together and talk to each other.”
Social media can be a great tool to market the
community, drawing people together face to face.
That need for a community to “get together
and talk” has become a cornerstone of the vision
Warren and other members of the Main Street
Program board have been pursuing over the past
year, with programs aimed at beautification,
revitalization and downtown improvements
coupled with business/community events.
Warren is confident Main Street can help
increase the vitality of downtown and the historic
district by continuing to help business source
grants for exterior building improvements and
generally make the town more beautiful.
Then it’s just a matter of drawing more people
into that space. “How do we do that? We do
big things that are regionally interesting.”
He said The Dalles has a thriving art community,
and as that becomes visible through public art
displays their vitality will grow. “Nothing generates
more interest than a thriving art community.” A
committee is being created to add downtown murals,
and find more places for artists to display their work.
“We will get to be known as a town of art, a town
of artists. We’ve proved the community can do
that, we just need to keep everyone involved and
inspired and we will do big things together.
“Our town proved it’s capable of getting
together and mobilizing. The connections
between everyone here is truly heartwarming.”
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