Cities, towns and counties are involved with many activities in a given year, from festivals to clean-up/fixing up the local creek or revitalizing the downtown area. These are, of course, all valid activities that are positive for the community. However, they are all very project-based, without anyone asking the question, “So what?” “Where are we going?” “Why are we going there?”
It reminds me of Shakespeare’s famous description of life in Macbeth: “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
On paper, it looks good to have all of these community projects going. But at the end of the day, what the community needs to think about is: What vision does this reach for the community? Why are we engaged in so many projects? What are we building here? What is the bottom line?
There are people doing many good things, but they are going along the same path without talking to each other. Few are communicating about the cooperative nature of these projects. In geometry, the sum of the parts equals the whole, but is this happening in the community? The community needs to find the underlying reason why everyone is doing these projects. In other words, they need a vision.
Last week, the city of Indianapolis closed down six miles of Interstate 70 for the city’s biggest beautification project. More than 8,000 volunteers from Eli Lilly planted 73,000 trees, plants and shrubs for their annual day of giving. The purpose of this project? To prepare for the city’s hosting of Super Bowl 2012, as well as to welcome and give a positive impression to all of the additional visitors who will travel this road. Now that’s a project with a purpose. The city has a vision of what the downtown will look like, with the purpose of creating a positive impact on the economic vitality of Indianapolis.
If we are able to undertake projects within our communities, why not have the leaders and citizens of that city, town, county or village come together to discuss the vision and total goals needed for improvement, not just the individual project? It’s like a football team scoring a touchdown in the first quarter without keeping an eye on the end score. What resources does the team need to pull together as a team in the 2nd, 3rd and fourth quarters to win the game?
A community vision would help answer the question, “What do these projects equal as we look into the future?” “How can we best utilize these resources for a set of common goals?” Having individuals get together to discuss the overall impact also ensures that everyone’s on the same page. And having a collaborative effort will ensure that your community “wins the game.”