Last summer, Creo Quality conducted an experiment of sorts in Martinsville, Indiana. We organized and held a Community Day event on the Square. We were told by the “leaders” in the town that we couldn’t do this. We did. I suppose our critics could argue that we crashed and burned. But I’m a “glass-half-full” guy. The main event focused on entrepreneurship. We had teams of kids create and run lemonade stands. All proceeds were donated to the local Boys & Girls Clubs.
In the year and a half that has transpired since, I’ve noticed some positive changes. The town seemed to feature more community events this past summer. We had a farmer’s market every Saturday. Small steps for many towns; huge strides for Martinsville.
But it’s not enough. Businesses still struggle. The perception outside the community is also not favorable. Good news: Martinsville has a strategic plan. Okay, not good news (in my opinion). Have you ever read any of these community strategic plans? 80% of the content is cookie cutter and not actionable. 20% is esoteric and vague. But good money (in the form of a grant, I think) was paid, so Martinsville leaders should be proud. I recently sent an email to several within the community asking who is working to improve the town. I received a few quick replies and was assured that several measures are underway to fix Martinsville. I was also invited to join the “team”. I expressed my interest and am still waiting on a response to when and where (it’s been nearly a month–no response). I’m just not convinced that the “leaders” in the community are on the right track.
(Back to being glass-half-full guy) Even the leaders in the community want what’s best. I’ve met some great people, heard some fantastic ideas, and had first-hand experience of businesses making a positive difference. We just need more–and we need to try things, fail, learn, and do it again and again and again.
So who’s with me? Who wants to work with me and roll up their sleeves to make Martinsville great again? We’ll likely step on some toes and make some people angry. This isn’t the purpose, but change is hard. Some people won’t like it. Some people will feel threatened. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, expecting different results without change is insanity. Despite what we were taught in school failure is an option. It’s a great way to learn what doesn’t work. However, failure to do anything except plan is not a choice Martinsville or any community should make.