Sadiq Khan

This blog is written by one of 15 individuals attending the South By Southwest Conference in Austin with the intention to bring back ideas and to reimagine Richland County.

Today is the penultimate day of our #SXSW419 experience in Austin.

Throughout the week I’ve had the chance to listen to a whole array of world class speakers on a multitude of topics. Some of my favorite sessions have been with mayors from cities all over the country talking about what they are doing to help reinvent their communities.

Jodie Perry

There is an international reach, too. Yesterday, I heard from London Mayor Sadiq Khan and today I had the chance to hear the Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon talking about innovation. The trade show is full of booths from far-away places, and some not so far away such as Akron, Ohio!

Throughout my time here I’ve been able to tell the story of Mansfield, and in particular what we’re trying to do with this project many times. The reaction I get every single time is one of curiosity and sincere interest. People have shared ideas, suggestions, and especially encouragement for what we are trying to do.

What will the plan say? Well, that’s still hard to tell at this point. Our minds are stuffed with so much content right now that it will take some time and good facilitation to unpack everything and distill it into its final form.

One thing I’m really thinking about right now is how do we think BIG? I’ve had many conversations about how we tend to dismiss our community or undersell what it has to offer. Are there issues yet to be solved? Sure! Are there people working hard to solve them? Absolutely! But we have to stop putting constraints on what we think we can achieve and aim higher.

We need to change our lens. Stop seeing what we can’t do, and start seeing what we can do. Stop thinking about only what is wrong, and start celebrating what is right. Stop feeling like we have to explain ourselves, and start feeling a strong pride in where we’re at in the journey. Start building new bridges within our own community.

Mansfield has a strong history, but I sincerely believe that it has an even stronger future. The 15 people I have journeyed with this week give me so much hope and excitement for this community.

It has nothing to do with this project or the plan. It has to do with who they are and how they each are already active and involved in making our community stronger. I know that for each of these 15 here, there are hundreds more at home working just as hard to push us forward.

Personally, I think it’s time we put Mansfield on the world stage – are you game?

Stay tuned and follow the progress via #SXSW419. And watch for more blogs at

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South by Southwest Conference Blogger

President & CEO of the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce and Richland Community Development Group and a proud Ashland University alum who grew up in upstate NY. She is a collaborator at heart and is invigorated by the teeming potential for the area.