Properties & Leasing

The Rainbow Roundabout: Standing strong in the face of tragedy

Posted by: Charlotte Manley Charlotte Manley
on August 29, 2016

The rainbow roundabout at Kimco’s Sodo shopping center in Orlando, Florida became a highlight of the property. A colorful piece of civic art that drew visitors as a tribute to the recent tragedy our community has endured. The shooting at Pulse nightclub on June 12 has forever changed Orlando. But the efforts of local businesses, organizations, and residents have shown we are strong and that the 49 lives lost will never be forgotten.

rainbow

The Rainbow Roundabout at Sodo, as seen from above

Pulse nightclub is located just one city block away from Sodo shopping center—close enough for residents of the neighboring Lofts at Sodo apartment complex to hear the attack, as well as to hit home for us and our patrons, which includes many members of the LGBT community. It’s a struggle for any community to deal with such an event, but by working together and following simple cues, it is possible to come through the other side stronger than before.

  1. Be flexible
    There is no one-size-fits-all answer to an event like this. At Sodo, road closures frequently changed, the front of our shopping center was blocked to traffic, and media and emergency vehicles took up residence in the back. During this time, it was not our responsibility to drive sales. It was our responsibility to make sure we did what we could to aid the community. Some tenants chose to stay open purely to allow their employees to come into work, or provide refreshments to police officers and first responders. Our social media accounts became platforms for updates on road closures and news. People used Sodo as a base camp, where they brought portable grills to feed crime scene workers and volunteers. We offered our space to counseling services, relief centers, and shelters for those waiting for news of family members and friends.
  1. Work together
    Coming together to support each other is important in times of tragedy. For us, this meant meeting with other community business leaders and representatives to determine the best ways to stand together as a resource for residents, honor the victims, and move forward. We had assistance from the National Entrepreneur Center, who has helped local business afflicted by calamities navigate in times of need and sorrow in the past. We worked with Downtown South, an Orlando Main Street organization, to address the plight of the neighborhood with business owners. We also collaborated with Target and the Lofts at Sodo, two non-Kimco properties, to combine our resources and aid in helping to stabilize the community where we could.
  1. Your community is your friend
    When a friend is grieving, you want to reach out, support them, and show them you care. The same applies to your community. Be there when they need you, express your support, and use what you have to comfort them. At Sodo, we along with Target, the Lofts at Sodo, and Downtown South, organized a vigil to honor the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Friends, families, and neighbors came together on June 21 to light candles and remember. We used our property as the venue and had everything from the stage to the emcee donated. It was a beautiful service, one we will all never forget for the unity it shone a light on in our community.

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A vigil for the victims of the Pulse shooting was held on June 21

  1. Bring color back into the community
    At Sodo, we did this through the creation of the Rainbow Roundabout. This piece of civic art became a piece of Sodo in Orlando. It provided a way to express our remembrance and grief in a way that is personal to our space, to Orlando, and to the tragedy that happened here. It also served as a personal backdrop to the #KeepDancingOrlando social media campaign, started by Jimmy Fallon to honor those who lost their lives dancing, and an art festival in which children drew hearts dedicated to the victims. Touches that are personal to your community can have a lasting effect like nothing else.

No one wants to experience a tragedy like the one that hit Orlando. But by coming together as a community, offering the resources available to us, and showing just a little creativity, we used our strength to bring some color back in this dark time.

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