German Village Gazette

Village Notebook

Next quest is to continue to promote why Village is important

We are teeing up some new fundraising projects in German Village.

We've had huge past successes, which include a $1 million campaign in the late 1980s and '90s raised to restore Schiller Park and buy the Meeting Haus and $140,000 raised in 2003 to add lights to Schiller to name just a couple.

Now, we're turning our attention outward.

The Society learned, during its study a few years back of the need for a new business model, that it needs to look for funding opportunities that don't rely on weather-dependent events and that look outside of the 233-acre historic footprint for donors.

I feel very privileged to say that our budget and our finances are in tip-top shape.

We enjoy a loyal member and donor base and our board members serve as excellent fiduciary agents. We don't wonder if we'll pay the light bill next month.

So, for what would we use new funds?

There's a whole list of critical needs that have fallen by the wayside over time, such as historic preservation expertise.

There are also a host of exciting, new, mission-centric programs we would embrace if we have the financial backing to do them.

One example is remodeling the Visitors Center. The Center is our first impression to most visitors.

It is our chance to tell our story of preservation in a compelling, memorable way.

We have existing elements that already make the place amazing: friendly and knowledgeable volunteers, excellent research on not only our historic preservation story, but our German heritage; and a fabulous 8-minute video that visitors absorb when they stop in.

But the space isn't optimized. It isn't interactive. It doesn't display our retail items well. It doesn't show off our archives.

So imagine what some rethinking and remodeling could do in that space!

I'm very keen in 2013, as we start to do some new fundraising, to help all of us develop a script that talks about what an asset the Village is to Columbus, central Ohio and the whole state.

We are so much more than the greatest place to live, work and play -- we are an economic powerhouse for this city and a national leader in historic preservation.

Also, people who don't live right here in our 233-acre footprint very likely would consider membership or a regular donation.

Think about it: Where do your friends from Bexley usually take their out of town guests? Oh, maybe the zoo, the art museum, Franklin Park Conservatory.

I'll bet your friends from Bexley NEVER miss taking relatives to German Village; and while they likely pay memberships to the zoo and the art museum and the conservatory, no one asks them to support this Columbus resource.

We are as critical to the fabric and enjoyment of this city as any of those other entities that people freely support with member and donor dollars.

So here's some of what I've been thinking about and vetting through people who don't live in German Village.

Here is my first draft of some new messaging to support our fundraising efforts.

We learned in August from Rhonda Sincavage that Preservation can create happiness. But what is preservation to someone who doesn't live and breathe our mission like we do?

For those on the outside, it often comes down to the bricks. That's what they remember, what they THINK of when they think "what is German Village?"

And it is those bricks that, for outsiders, define our particular charm. It's what brings them down and then brings them back.

What's happening on those bricks that all of Columbus cares about?

We are a vibrant community.

Our preserved urban core is a destination.

Preservation saves the planet because rehab is ALWAYS greener than building from scratch.

Preservation means you get to know your neighbors.

You can walk to work, school and play. That creates business opportunities as passersby engage our entrepreneurs.

And it is our businesses that brings people to this neighborhood, which allows us to tell our story to thousands more new faces every year.

That's living our mission and it matters to every person who traipses down to see us.

One of the people I vetted this message on -- a native of Powell -- shot back at me what I thought was a pretty brilliant tagline: If you're not on the bricks, you're in the sticks!

German Village Society Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column to the ThisWeek German Village Gazette.

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