We've been dared — by the mayor — and I'm daring everyone, too.
The challenge? Get out and get involved! Get out and learn about the city! Get out and have fun!
Mayor Tom Henry offered the mock-serious challenge to respond to a situation he views seriously: Too many people live here without knowing much at all about the place or making any effort to enjoy what it has to offer. All by himself, the press release said, he came up with a list of more than 500 things any one of us could do in a year to connect with Fort Wayne.
The initial announcement offered three big suggestions (each one is titled with the attribute about community connection and pride it addresses):
Openness. My Fort Wayne is a campaign to engage residents in a personal way through stories told about what makes this community their own and what they like about this place. Honest, heartfelt and homemade, the narratives and images will form a shared community testament - a way for people to more rickly connect and celebrate one another. It will also allow each resident to become an ambassador for Fort Wayne. Videos can be submitted via YouTube. A gallery of the videos and photos will be on exhibit at www.YouTube.com/FortWayneInd, where several videos have already been posted.
Social offerings. Keying off the Mayor's original list of opportunities, Discover Fort Wayne, in concert with Visit Fort Wayne, will have special promotions and incentives available to residents encouraging them to join in Fort Wayne activities, events and attractions. Go to www.VisitFortWayne.com to find out more.
Aesthetics. Just in time for warmer weather, Fort Wayne's and the area's award-winning parks and trails await walkers, runners, bikers, idlers and ramblers of every sort. Find a spot to picnic. Linger awhile to appreciate our remarkable flowers and trees. Uncover a new vista, historical treasure or architectural delight. Recreate in one of the City's 86 parks or set off to Trek the Trails. More importantly, stop and enjoy the beauty that is all around.
"In order for pride to grow and each of us to become a great ambassador, we've got to get to know one another and celebrate our city ourselves," Henry said. "Before we can achieve it, we've got to believe it. Let's shine the spotlight on our amazing quality of life and countless attractions. Let's resolve to savor our community and then showcase it to the world. Let's Discover Fort Wayne."
You can learn more about the Knight Foundation's fascinating "Soul of the Community" research (through which the three attributes were identified) at www.soulof the community.org.
Connie Haas Zuber is editor of Fort Wayne Monthly.