The Steering Committee for the Vibrant Communities initiative were thrilled with the turnout for process Kickoff on Tuesday night. More than 600 people packed the Lerner Theatre’s Crystal Ballroom, forcing the Planning Team to prepare an additional, spill-over room.

Reactions the event have been universally positive including comments like this on the Vibrant Community’s facebook page, “So exciting to see this event unfold. Ideas. Innovations. Inspiring words. Challenges offered. This is what I love about this community. We are a group of people who are constantly looking at ways to grow and thrive in whatever industry we are in.”

Jose Chiquito, Kickoff Event

High School Senior Jose Chiquito delivers a final thank you to the crowd.

The Planning Team and Steering Committee are hoping to build on this enthusiasm as the process heads into the next phase of engagement.

The evening began with welcome from the process sponsors, the Community Foundation of Elkhart County and the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Planning Team then provided an overview of the initiative, highlighting future opportunities for participants to get involved. Co-Chairs, Dallas Bergl and Gina Leichty introduced the Steering Committee and asked attendees to inventory the many recent success stories from around their communities.

After an introduction from Gina Leichty, Peter Kageyama delivered an inspiring talk on the importance of love in placemaking. Peter stressed the need to think creatively and allow those with passion and enthusiasm the leeway to try something new. His presentation provided small and large project examples from communities across the country.

The energized crowd then used Peter’s talk as a prompt for 49 table simultaneous table discussions. The conversations were captured by a table recorder and will help direct the Planning Team as they move into the next phase of the process.

The night’s final speaker was also its youngest. Jose Chiquito, Goshen High School Senior, gave a final thank you to the crowd, stressing the importance of this initiative to his generation.

As the crowd filed out, representatives from the five Community Conversation areas collected thoughts from participants on the next phase of the process. The Community Conversation meetings will take place over the week of February 22nd in five locations around the county.

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