Brian Fesler is the director of special affairs for the Church of Scientology, 1011 Nicollet Mall. Besides his work, Fesler is an active volunteer Downtown. He serves as mall coordinator for the Nicollet Mall Special Services District Advisory Board. Among other things, he organizes an annual Nicollet Mall beauty contest where judges identify the Mall's prettiest and ugliest blocks. He has been involved in Mall beautification efforts since October 2002.
What do you think about the work done on the Mall so far?
I think it's going really well. I think that a lot of the concerns up front were if the city backs off on the sweeping and flowers and the Mall daily activities, is the Mall going to stay pretty and nice throughout the summer? After last summer, I was kind of excited about it. It looked great. There's always room for improvement, and I hope to do that this year.
With your role with the Church of Scientology, did you face skepticism or some hesitation from other property owners when you first started volunteering?
I was always very nicely received, very well received. ... I do remember a meeting where I mentioned something about the Church, and people started asking questions about it. ... It was right after New Year's , and every year we put out a calendar and it includes photographs by [Scientology founder] L. Ron Hubbard and it's just a nice calendar, so I passed them out to the people at the meeting. ... I didn't really intend to do anything but pass out the calendars, because they were really big and really nice, but then [the people] started asking questions.
What were they curious about?
What is Scientology -- stuff like that. How long have you been here? Do you own the building? These are all property owners, so they [the people] are curious about that. We've been in Minneapolis since 1965 or something. We've been Downtown in this spot since 1991. So we're part of the Mall.
Does Scientology inform how you approach volunteering?
Yeah, I think it has to. Scientology promotes that you don't just survive for yourself. You have your family and groups and all of mankind and these different dynamics of survival. So it is not enough just to make your own life go good. ... So community involvement is more than just a good idea in Scientology -- it's practically required.
Why is it important for the Mall to look good?
It's kind of like the broken-window theory. If you see a big building with one window broken and you don't fix it, then there's going to be two, then there's going to be four and then there's going to be trash and then transients living there. ... When we pay attention to the little things, I think it's easier to do that than wait until it's a big problem.