by Kirby LindsayNearly every New Year’s resolution concerns change. This year is no different for me, as I do hereby resolve to change my behavior – as I learn to accept changes, and be more flexible, about the efforts of others…to make changes.
With close to 20 years experience in community activism and organization (if anything in Fremont can ever be organized,) I have come to the mistaken belief that I know best how things work here, the way to get things done, and what cannot be accomplished.
My resolution for 2011 is to stop assuming what I know as THE way is the only effective and possible method.
Learning from Others
Last spring, two young men approached the Fremont Chamber of Commerce with their dream of a music festival – and last September they succeeded with the first-ever Fremont Lovefest. They committed some errors in their first attempt, but they endured – despite the naysayers and critics. A couple thousand people enjoyed their unique festival and several businesses and non-profits gained exposure they never would have otherwise.
Last summer a group of concerned neighbors, with no direct association to a community organization and without any grand agenda, beautified a section of their Fremont/Wallingford neighborhood. The 46th Street Mural Steering Committee engaged dozens of neighbors in planning and painting (and celebrating) the mural - without requiring membership in, well, anything.
This year – in fact, very shortly – a safety barrier will be installed along the Aurora Bridge. While the Washington State Department of Transportation has managed the construction, one private citizen, Ryan Thurston, set the project in motion. He enlisted dozens of volunteers, contacted dozens of decision makers, and pushed along an idea that had, only months before he began, been declared impossible – to solve a problem people still refer to as without solution.
To Keep My Mouth Shut
I can go on. The history of the development of Fremont is rife with radical – or frankly weird – ideas brought by individuals and/or groups of vision. Sit outside and watch movies? Install a ferro-concrete Troll? Become a repository for surplus topiary dinosaurs? Build a chocolate factory in Fremont? In a brewery?
This community depends upon provocative, unusual and simply new ideas to thrive. Untried ideas deserve a hearing. Concepts that defy convention require flexible and open minds. Ideas previously tried, and failed, might work, this time, given the much changed climate.
In addition, recent Fremont Arts Council, Fremont Chamber and Fremont Neighborhood Council meetings have discussed shrinking attendance. It may come about that one, or all, of these institutional organizations needs to be shaken up with fresh ideas and new approaches, and the involvement of inexperienced and untried volunteers.
Yet, veteran campaigners like myself can discourage novice volunteers, often unintentionally, through too much direction and critique – especially when mistakes occur. And weird, unconventional and even controversial ideas will result in errors, on the way to rousing successes.
I resolve in 2011 (and beyond!) to check my naysaying – and pointing out the proper way to accomplish whatever – to give others a chance to voice their ideas. By this, I hope to see Fremont become a place of vision, dreams and groundbreaking ideas.
Or, rather, continue to be one.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.