Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Value of Vision, Part 1

The Value of Vision, Part 1 - Why Are We Doing This?

Why are we doing this?  Yes, that's a question I ask myself almost daily.  As it is always best for any good story to start from the beginning, I should probably set the stage for this discussion.  In January, our organization, in partnership with City Council, decided to host a Downtown Visioning Session to gather input and ideas from the community at large.  Once the word got out, the same question came up over and over again - why?

Downtown Rochester, Michigan (about 40 minutes north of Detroit) with a population of about 12,000 people has been in the downtown revitalization business since 1983.  From facade grant programs and farmers' markets to lightpoles and that little light show of ours, we've done it all and everything in between in our 30+ years.  So it obviously begs the question, why hold a Downtown Visioning Session?  Great question, with many different answers. 

First, and specific to our organization, we've had a lot of challenges over the past several years.  But with new leadership, stable funding, motivated volunteers and a fresh sense of purpose everyone is looking to "right the ship" and start defining the direction for downtown. 

Second, input is always welcome. Heck, in this job, we get it whether we want it or not every time we hold an event or put up a street sign, so why not be proactive by initiating the discussion and engaging the community in the process. Any time you have an opportunity to get people involved in your organization or your efforts is a good day. 

And last, but certainly no less important is something that has been my professional mantra for years - you can always be better.  The moment you think that your downtown is the best it can be and there is nothing left to do, you're right, and it's time to step aside and let someone else take the lead.  And if you truly are at the top of your game, what better time to start to plan for the future?  Proactive trumps reactive any day of the week.

So there we were, we knew wanted to hold a Downtown Visioning Session.  Sounds cool, right? But what did that really mean?  Who was going to do this?  What was our goal?  Again, more questions in need of answers, and we found those answers, along with a few passionate volunteers and a charismatic downtown visionary to take us on the journey.

Stay tuned next week for The Value of Vision, Part 2 - Assembling the Dream Team

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