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Greater Spokane 

by Pia K. Hansen

In November of 2000, a handful of people got together after work, talking about -- what else? -- how to make Spokane a better place to live. Some had lived in other areas of the country, like Seattle, for instance, and were missing something, well, something not quite tangible.

"The function was to try to make Spokane a more enjoyable place to live and raise families," says Bob Sestero, a lawyer with Keefe, King and Bowman during the day, and one of the people at the table that night.

A few months later, the organization -- Greater Spokane -- held its first public meeting, where about 80 people showed up. Through the ideas presented by the people who were there, Greater Spokane settled on one major project for the upcoming year: to support the creation of a science center on the north bank of Riverfront Park.

"The group decided to pursue the north bank science and technology center, even though the Park Board is way down the road with it," says Sestero. "We are working with the Park Board and want to help and facilitate what they are doing. Another project people were very interested in is the Gorge Park project. Here, Friends of the Falls are already hard at work, but we'd like to be able to support them."

So why not just join Friends of the Falls?

"We'd like to be more of a supportive group, to help with whatever we can to complete the project," says Sestero. "It would be nice if, down the road, people would say, 'Hey, let's get Greater Spokane involved, we need their help.' "

Currently, there are about 175 people on the group's rapidly growing e-mail list -- but Sestero had a hard time hiding his disappointment when only about 40 showed up for the last meeting -- down about half from the first get-together.

"I know, I know, it's always hard in the beginning," he says. "But we'll keep at it. We want to give the group a social flavor, too. If people meet up and strike a business relationship at the meeting, then that's great, too."

In early spring next year, Greater Spokane plans to hold a black tie fund-raiser, something he says his generation has lacked.

"Generation is maybe not the right word, there are people of many different ages in this group -- but you know, the 35- and 40-year-olds," says Sestero, who is in his mid-30s. "We have a specific group that works on supporting the science center, but we'd like to give money to other projects as well.

"What we did was create an empty vehicle and let the members grab the steering wheel," says Sestero. "There will be many smaller projects over the summer, like the cleaning up of Cliff Park on May 19. We are just getting started."

For more information about Greater Spokane, send an e-mail to [email protected]
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