Big announcement planned by Carlinville Winning Communities
By Rick Wade
Carlinville Winning Communities (CWC) is planning a celebration – and the entire city is invited.
According to Richard Oswald, one of CWC’s founding organizers, the group is ready to unveil its plan of action for Carlinville’s future during a public meeting Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Carlinville High School.
The plan will be a 20- to 25-page document that is basically an analysis of the community based on input from residents: what’s right about Carlinville, what’s a challenge, what we can work on, what can we do better,” Oswald said. “It will outline the steps we went through to develop the teams and what the teams decided was important to do. And by teams, I mean the community, because these were all open meetings. It’s an action plan that outlines how we are going to get there.
“This meeting is going to be our roll out, a recognition of all the work that’s been done, a celebration if you will, of ‘Here’s the end of our 90 days to a winning community’ even though it’s been more than 90 days, because of the holidays. But not much more than 90 days.”
Oswald said a new community website will also be unveiled at the Jan. 17 meeting, going live on the Internet.
CWC follows the methods developed by Winning Communities founder and facilitator Jim Dittoe.
Dittoe guides communities through a process of gathering ideas and information from residents about the city’s assets, challenges and opportunities during public meetings, encouraging them to envision the future and develop goals and action plans for success.
Since the local organization’s first meeting Oct. 18, a core group of citizens have been working together, first as a steering team, then divided into seven action teams, each with a specific focus. Members of CWC have already been taking their efforts public, most notably the parks/recreation team that is promoting a bike trail from Carlinville to Beaver Dam State Park.
Besides the plan, which is now being fine-tuned by Dittoe, CWC is announcing its vision statement: “Celebrating our past, cooperating in the present, competing for the future.”
“We wanted to come up with something that was short, memorable and spoke to our purpose,” said Oswald.
“Over the years, we’ve done a great job of recognizing who we are and celebrating that. What we haven’t been so great about is cooperating in the present. And that’s what we are all about. At the end of the day, we’ve got to remember that no matter what happens, it’s about working together, partnerships. That has to be in there, that what we really want to do is make Carlinville better, more attractive.”
Oswald said in February, CWC will begin regular monthly meetings with a regular location. “In February, we’re going to put the car in drive and go. The seven teams will begin doing the real work,” he said.
Teams will be giving an update of their status and future direction at the Jan. 17 public meeting. Those teams are: infrastructure, economic development, education, parks/recreation/leisure, social services; downtown development/community pride; and highspeed broadband internet.
Oswald had another big announcement: CWC’s incorporation as a non-profit 501C-3. “We hope to have that paper work in very soon,” said Oswald. “We will also develop a fund-raising team at some point.”
Oswald said Dittoe’s fees have been paid through individual and business donations. “These people feel very strongly about this effort,” he explained. “It’s been a volunteer thing. We’ve been selling the vision.”
As required by laws governing non-profits, a slate of officers has been elected by steering team members. They are Richard Oswald, president; Ashley Archibee-Hadley, secretary; and Gary Graham, treasurer.
In spite of the fact CWC is moving on to the next level, the public is still very much invited to participate.
“Since its inception, CWC has called for residents to attend meetings and participate. That invitation still stands,” said Oswald. “One of the things I’ve said all along and I will say it again: It will never be too late to join CWC. It’s not like we close the door at some point. We’re always going to need people. There will never be a point we have enough people.”
Oswald is optimistic about the future of Carlinville.
“I have no tangible reason to say this, but there seems to be an air of change building, having to do with being cooperative, a spirit of openness to ideas, as opposed to ‘I’m not interested,’” he said.
“CWC is not political, but we do have a mayor’s race coming up, a new president at Blackburn College … it’s a time of change, a new year. It would be a good time to remain open to cooperation. There’s something swirling. I can’t put my finger on it, and I don’t understand it. All I want to do is keep CWC pointed in the right direction.”
Editor’s note: Members of the Carlinville Winning Communities steering team were asked to share their experiences and impressions of where the organization — and Carlinville — is heading. The thoughts of those who responded will be posted on our website at enquirerdemocrat.net.