Creative Community-building through great ideas and connections

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What We Do

We move communities forward together

About Ryan Smolar

Ryan has spent his career bolstering local creatives, small businesses, and mission-driven organizations

LinkedIN Bio

BID Management & Promotion

Ryan Smolar managed the Downtown Santa Ana business improvement district for nearly a decade

Downtown Santa Ana

Food Systems

Ryan Smolar Co-Leads Long Beach Fresh, a food systems alliance of 70+ urban farmers, chefs, gardeners and local food advocates

Long Beach Fresh

Global Placemaking

Ryan Smolar initiated PlacemakingUS, the United States placemaking network that's part of the global PlacemakingX movement

placemaking us

Festivals & Forums

Ryan Smolar manages and promotes numerous food festivals, community-building events and forums

Foodways Summit

Savor Santa Ana


Historic Street Breakfast

Community Platforms

Ryan Smolar has created several community platforms for all boats to rise together and level the playing field for creatives and initiators

Arts Registry

Hack for Health

Book by Authors


What People Say About Us

“Ryan is a go getter and networker, and connects dots like I have never seen. He has an ability to take anything and make it something. He is also a peacemaker, and has been able to connect groups that didn't speak to find ways to work together and mutually benefit.”

Ryan Chase Property Owner and Developer

“I have to say that Ryan’s creativity was the spark that opened up the floodgates to and of all the creativity in my business district. I call him my muse. He inspired me to try new things for this district, experiment, and figure out how to best promote our businesses while also engaging our local community and customer base.”

Blair Cohn BID Executive Director

“Ryan is one of a kind. He’s a big thinking idea machine who can actually drill down and execute concepts that no one would have thought of much less dared to make into reality. He’s got the stuff to make magic out of a handful of beans.”

Justin Hectus Festival Producer & Community Leader

“Smolarcorp, the brainchild of Ryan Smolar, is an evolving platform whose seemingly single purpose is to pose the question “why not?” Through its various endeavors, Smolarcorp works to identify needs and opportunities, connecting the dots to meet those needs and take advantage of those opportunities...With its youthful exuberance, organic approach to building community, and willingness to challenge tradition even while respecting a city's historic past, Smolarcorp has approached each of its projects with an open-mind, while still evincing an uncanny understanding of the forces in play.”

Brian Ulaszewski Community Design Studio Principle

“Ryan - thank you for putting your heart into everything you've done for Downtown Santa Ana. You have done more for downtown Santa Ana, have galvanized business owners, and brought artists, and makers together. You more than deserve to be recognized for your hard work and I am grateful for you and everything you've done to make Santa Ana a fun and vibrant downtown area.”

Yvonne Flores Small Business Owner, Downtown Resident & Boardmember

“Thank you Ryan Smolar for all you have done and do for our city. I for one am very grateful for all the help and support you've given the library and our Teenspace over the years!”

Cheryl Eberly Director of Santa Ana Library System
Awards & Contributions

Accolades and Industry Contributions

Grants Received

  • John S. and James L. Knight Foundation - Connected Corridor
  • John S. and James L. Knight Foundation - Donor Advised Fund
  • Kaiser HEAL Zones - North Long Beach Initiative
  • California Endowment - Building Healthy Communities
  • National Endowment for the Arts - Creative Placemaking
  • City fo Santa Ana - Investing in the Arts
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Partnerships to Improve Community Health
  • Port of Long Beach - Community Grants Program
  • Dignity Health - Community Grants
  • Arts Council for Long Beach - Microgrant
  • We Rise - Art, Food and Mental Health Grant
  • Arts Council for Long Beach - California Arts Corps Grant

Awards Received

  • International Downtown Associaiton - Emerging Leaders Fellowship 2020
  • California State Senator Ricardo Lara - Innovator Award 2018
  • International Downtown Association - Marketing Merit Award 2015


  • "A Playground for Food" in The City at Eye Level Asia
  • Guide for Business Districts to Work with Local Artists
  • Nighttime Economy: A Guide for Emerging, Growing and Established Downtowns
  • A Practical Guide to Great Urban Parks: How To Benefit From and Finance Your Urban Park
  • Municipal Partnerships: A Toolkit for Municipal & Urban Place Management Organization Relationships



  • Finca Tierra - Costa Rica - Permaculture Design Certificate 2023
  • National Restaurant Association - ServSafe® Food Protection Manager Certification 2021
  • Quail Springs - Ojai - Permaculture Design Certificate 2019

Speaking Engagements

  • ReMake/ReDesign/ReClaim- Village Building Convergence in Portland, OR - 2023
  • Local Food Organizing Discussion- Raleigh City Farm and the Asheville Peace Garden in North Carolina - 2023
  • A Night with PlacemakingUS and Placemaking Japan - Sotonoba Event Series - 2023
  • Nourishing Communities: The Role of Food in Shaping a Sense of Place - Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit - 2023
  • Food and Markets at the Heart of the City - Placemaking Week Europe - Pontevedra, Spain - 2022
  • Placemaking and Permaculture and Sustainable Tourism- Placemaking Week India - Mangaluru, India - 2022
  • Placemaking as a Tool for Government Innovation and Iteration - Creative Bureaucracy Festival - 2022
  • The Post-Pandemic American Recovery and Food Placemaking - Placemaking as a Citywide Endeavor at H22 Festival - 2022
  • Placekeeping - Byverksted Festival - 2022
  • International Placemaking Networks Discussion and Workshop - International Making Cities Livable -2022
  • Placemaking Philosophies, Observations and Strategies - Research Network for Smart Sustainable Cities at Stavanger University - 2022
  • Printing Money for Placemaking - Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit - 2022
  • "Roadtrip for the Recovery" - Congress for New Urbanism 30 - 2022
  • United Streets of America - Congress for New Urbanism 29 - 2021
  • Global Placemaking - Placemaking Week Japan 2020
  • Business Improvement Districts - Placemaking Week ASEAN 2019
  • Local Food Systesm - Placemaking Week ASEAN 2019
  • Growing Urban Agriculture from the Ground-Up - International Placemaking Week 2019
  • Night-time Economies - International Downtown Association Annual Conference 2018