SXSW team meeting

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. The team has since developed the Mansfield Rising plan, which Richland Source will explain idea-by-idea beginning March 1.  

A year ago this week we were planning for an early morning meeting with the 15 participants and the 28 advisers about what we all signed up for.

Everyone was nervous. What was this was going to look like? Who are these people? What are we doing here? How many times are we going to meet throughout the year? How is this all going to come together? What is it going to be like in Austin?

Allie Watson

Allie Watson.

Richland Source publisher Jay Allred assured us SXSW would be the equivalent feeling of setting your hair on fire and drinking from a fire hose. He wasn’t wrong.

The SXSW Conference was big and amazing and busy and full and exhausting and overwhelming and made your brain work for weeks on various ideas.

Then, we came home. It turned out the blogs we wrote were kind of a big deal. I was convinced it would just be us and my mom reading the blogs. I was wrong. Over 18,000 people read them and the #SXSW419 received over 1 million clicks.

Richland County citizens were interested.

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What was it like? What’s next? When can we start? How do I get involved? What’s the plan?

Since returning from Austin, we’ve been in meetings, presentations and one-on-one conversations with over 500 citizens interested in learning more. This is the behind-the-scenes view you don’t get when consultants are hired to create a plan.

I’ve equated this to sausage making, as it takes longer than you’d prefer, it’s messy and not pretty or clean. But, in the end you’re going to get a great product. And, we’re almost there.

We’re working on the final edits to the document before we make it public. This is going to be an online document that can be accessible to everyone.

The hope is that every individual, group, and organization can read this plan, find what they are passionate about and how they fit into the plan. This will be a collaborative effort fueled by all of us.

This Solutions Journalism story is brought to you in part by the generous support of our Newsroom Partners: Spherion, Visiting Nurses Association, PR Machine Works, Nanogate/Jay Systems, DRM Productions, OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital, Richland Bank, Mechanics Bank, Area Agency on Aging, and many others. To learn more about Solutions Journalism at Richland Source click the "About Solutions Journalism."

South By Southwest Conference Blogger

Senior Community Investment Officer at Richland County Foundation. Allie helps donors fulfill their charitable wishes through grant making. She discovers and discusses community opportunities, projects and programs with donors and grant recipients.