The Vibrant Communities movement along with hundreds of Elkhart County residents united Wednesday night, January 22, at the Lerner Theatre to show how much they love where they live and celebrate everything that makes Elkhart County a great place to live, work, learn and play.
The event celebrated several years of resident involvement in promoting quality-of-place projects and initiatives in the six communities of Elkhart County.
“Starting four years ago, residents from every city and every town in Elkhart County, helped us put an action agenda together,” stated Vibrant Communities co-chair Suzie Weirick.
“That agenda consisted of 77 things to do – an ambitious plan to make a profound difference in our connected communities. And, I’m proud to say most of the action items are either in progress, or have already been completed.”
The Big Event also introduced Elkhart County’s new Destination Brand Identity: Well Crafted.
WATCH: Well Crafted destination brand launch video
Vibrant Communities co-chair Arvis Dawson shared that the new Destination Brand Identity culminates years of work.
“The process to get where we are today was a disciplined one. It involved research, and consultation with citizens throughout Elkhart County,” stated Dawson.
“We compared ourselves to other regions around the country and worked hard to figure out two things: What makes Elkhart County different. And what makes us different in a way that matters to outsiders – people who will want to come here and experience the things we have to offer – particularly because they can’t get that experience anywhere else.”
Co-Chairs Arvis Dawson and Suzie Weirick also thanked the hundreds of individuals who’ve been named Vibrant People in Elkhart County, along with more than 60 winners of the Little Big Idea Grants who have made a distinct difference across the county.
New initiatives such as Vibrant Champions, Vibrant Neighborhoods as well as The Coolest Thing Made in Elkhart County were also unveiled.
Peter Kageyama, an internationally sought-after community development consultant and grassroots engagement strategist who delivered a stunning and inspirational presentation to help launch the Vibrant Communities movement in January 2016, returned as the keynote speaker at The Big Event.
Kageyama’s message focused on how emotions such as love for a place have a tremendous influence on how residents and visitors experience a city.
“Four years ago, we had a conversation that lit a bunch of fires. This year we’re going to celebrate those fires and figure out those next steps and where we’re going to take this,” he said.
A large exhibition of unique products and services made by the companies and people of Elkhart County were also on display across from the theater in the adjacent Crystal Ballroom.