Monday, December 8, 2008
One remarkable thing about the final planning "summit" in Washington Park on Saturday morning was that the big room at St. Edmund's Church was almost full by 9:30 a.m. despite two inches of fresh snow outside. Another was that after a full year of sometimes-contentious planning meetings – and at least six detailed rewrites of the evolving plan – the crowd was as enthusiastic as ever. These 50 people and about 170 other participants had gotten to know each other across the months of talking, touring and debating the future of their community.
And they were feeling pretty good about the whole darn thing.
The meeting itself was almost perfunctory. After Alderman Willie Cochran welcomed the crowd and cracked a few jokes, community leaders ran through the high points of the plan and then declared the formal part of the meeting over. But there was "Willie's Chili" in crock pots on a table in back, and flowering bulbs in decorative pots for everyone to take home, and sign-up sheets for each of the strategy areas.
People talked, committed themselves on the sign-up sheets, talked some more, took photos and promoted their latest programs. They did business, talked about the economy and wished each other a happy holiday.
They hung together for more than an hour talking about all the things that people in a healthy community talk about, and to me, that's a pretty clear sign that the planning process worked. Now the hard work of implementation can begin.
Read Richard Muhammad's full report on the Washington Park NCP web site. Also thanks to Richard for the photos.