We have been focusing on Neighborhood Development and what that can mean for our county. The question that remains is “how do we move our communities to the next level?”

What does next level even mean?

Next level is anything more than we are now. It can be baby steps. It can be large leaps. How are we positioning our communities for success? For innovation? For attraction? The list could go on and on. The good news is that several organizations throughout the county are working on this.

From talent attraction to housing infrastructure, work is happening. And we don’t want to lose this momentum.

Forward Wayne County supports these efforts and knows that jobs attract residents, but quality housing and amenities keep residents. We also think there is another key component.

Jeff Seigler, in his blog article Choose Civic Pride, said “the cities that will win the future are the ones that foster civic pride.” We’ve used, with permission, the following excerpt from that blog:

He’s right, of course.

But do you ever read something and keep coming back to it? That’s what happened when we read the full blog. We kept coming back over and over again. And then it hit us. Moving our communities to the next level is not all about what is being done at the county level or the community level.

We think there is a case to be made about what we are doing at the individual level.

Look at the except again and take out communities, village, neighborhoods, etc. And replace it with the word “I.”

It’s provoking because now it is personal.

How am I opting for action over planning? What am I doing to cultivate a sense of identity? How am I making my place in my community?

When we take ownership of something, the end result is next level of what it was. We call that an “assets-first” mindset. We look for the good first and see how we can improve it. Or we look at something and see the potential. That doesn’t mean we ignore what is going on around us, but that we are choosing to see the assets first.

Here are some actual examples in Wayne County:

Someone said “Let’s create an event in the dead of an Indiana winter.” You know people thought they were crazy. The result? The Meltdown Festival. People come from all over the State to attend. And it’s happening this weekend in a new fashion!

Two entrepreneurs said, “We have to do something about our downtown and we’ll organize and lead the charge.” The result? Jim and Jill King and Cambridge City’s downtown. Home in Wayne just featured them.

Someone said, “We are going to put a park behind and down the hill from the county jail.” Great location, huh? Do you know that people come from all over the State to see the veteran park and that it is a model for other States?

A local businessman said an area of town could really use some cleanup. The result? He organized a group of volunteers to go do it so that Richmond would look attractive to people visiting.

Wayne County’s history is all about innovation. Elisa Worland, a new resident, in her guest blog for Forward Wayne County said it best, “Instead of focusing on what you once were, shift the focus to what you want to be now, bringing in all of those diverse voices that make this place great today.”

We couldn’t agree more. Wayne County’s future is still all about innovation. And it starts with us.

When we change people, we change places. Together, let’s move our communities to the next level.

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