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.
When I was a child, like many, I imagined I was a bird.
I soared all over my neighborhood. I flew to and from school, to my best friend’s house, to tap dance lessons and to the pool. There I imagined I could swim like a dolphin.
But as an adult, I have not tapped my imagination like I did when I was a kid.
However, since a recent trip to the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in Austin, TX, my imagination has been jump-started.
Richland Area Chamber of Commerce President Jodie Perry and Richland Source President Jay Allred had a crazy idea to send a group of people to SXSW with the intent to bring back new ideas to improve downtown Mansfield.
This innovative approach was funded by the Foundation. I was one of the 15 Mansfield area residents who went. We were there during the special Cities Summit which focused on the progress of cities around the world.
Our group is targeting the following sectors for our city: walkability, food & entertainment, start-up & technology, social impact and the workplace.
Over the course of the next six months, we will work with 28 advisors to sort through the ideas to create action plans. Clear lines of accountability and ownership have been drawn and now it’s time to work.
I have been imagining what could be created to improve downtown Mansfield.
Here is my list:
1. Open a makerspace for people to make things.
A makerspace is a collaborative work space. It might be located in a school, library or another facility, where for example, the community might have access to equipment or access to skills in the STEM fields. Read more about this at makerspaces.com.
2. Build a community pool because pools are important.
They are a gathering place, promote a sense of community, improve health and well-being and are a fun part of summer.
3. Open a duckpin bowling alley.
My son, Ryan, and his friends Gabe and Graham McCready like to go downtown, but would like to see more entertainment options around the Brickyard. They go to a duckpin bowling alley in Columbus and would like to see one here. It offers other classic games such as four-square, pinball, billiards and ping pong along with leagues.
4. Start a bicycle cooperative with a café that serves food catered to a bicyclist’s palette.
These are places that provide bike repairs and likely sell bike parts, but they also serve as a spot where people can learn repair skills.
I think, imagination can be a powerful force. Let us know what you have been thinking about. And check out other SXSW blogs at richlandsource.com/rising_from_rust/sxsw.