Confession of a Changemaker

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I sat in a room in our city hall recently surrounded by a roomful of people just like me. I didn’t know when I got there we were all cut from the same cloth. And the realization that we all share the same traits didn’t actually hit me till I left the room and had a little time to contemplate the question asked by the city manager at the end of the hour and half talk given by Peter Kageyama, author of “For the Love of Cities”.

City officials invited Peter to town to talk about engaging citizen changemakers. I saw the invite posted on social media and I signed up right away. I was impressed to see the city hosting such an event and bringing Peter Kageyama to our community.

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Listening to Peter talk about what some of the people he’s met across the country love about their cities was enlightening. It was when he asked the question of “where’s the fun in your town” and showed examples of how adding elements of fun to a community had prompted a sense of “surprise and delight,” thus leading to an emotional attachment — that the crowd sitting in that city hall room really began to become engaged.

Generating emotional attachments doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Kageyama proved this as he shared example after example of communities that have achieved wow-factor results by sometimes using things as simple as a garden hose or a swing placed in random spots throughout town.

Two of the biggest take aways from Kageyama’s talk: “Don’t over think solutions and aim low to help people see their community differently and remember what they love about the place they live.”

Mt. Pleasant City Manager Kathie Grinzinger concluded the presentation by asking the crowd “what’s next?”

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“It’s not the government’s job to create our city. We want to get out of the way. So, what’s next to get folks to fall in love with our commuity?” – asked Grinzinger.

The what’s next question is what lead me to the realization that I’m just like everyone else sitting in that room listening to Kageyama talk about ways to turn our community into a place where people don’t simply just live, but love.

Addressing “what’s next” is the first step towards further developing this love affair between people and our community. This requires a confession from everyone in that room. This confession doesn’t need a priest or trip to church. What’s necessary is the acknowledgement of an important character trait shared between us (and among many others throughout our community, I contend).

Peter Kageyama came to Mt. Pleasant to engage citizen changemakers. The first step in doing so is getting the citizens in town who are changemakers to stand up, raise your hand and admit to being a one.

This confession is the critical next step in moving our community forward as a place people love as it removes the barriers, stops those with passion from waiting for permission to take action and forces those in the way of change to step aside. 

… I’ll go first in confessing … I am a citizen CHANGEMAKER!

If you attended the recent Engaging Citizen Changemakers session and experienced a sense of excitement and passion hearing Kageyama talk you are a changemaker, too. I encourage you to join me in confessing.

If you were not able to attend the gathering at Mt. Pleasant City Hall, but love our community and eager to share your zeal, then raise your hand and join in the confession, too.

The more citizen changemakers the better. Just imagine the “surprise and delight” we can generate by stepping up and coming together as a group.