German Village Gazette

Village Notebook

Data gathered; Task force soon to seek project 'champions'


I wanted to update you on the progress by our Strategic Planning Task Force, especially after more than 400 German Village stakeholders have spent time either in person or filling in an online survey to help shape its recommendations.

In January, the Board of Trustees set a purpose for the task force: to evaluate the German Village Society's mission and vision and to recommend a strategic plan to guide the Society's focus and goals for the next 5-10 years. Members were asked to:

• Review the German Village Society's mission and vision, in the context of German Village today and in the future, for continued relevance and make recommendations as needed;

• Develop a strategic plan which identifies the three to five most pivotal strategies for the German Village Society to pursue over the next number of years and, which includes specific goals supporting these strategies and facilitating their execution;

• Suggest measures of success or achievement of goals.

The task force is made up of a cross-section of Villagers with various history, interests, expertise and points of view.

Amanda Smolinec serves as chair and facilitator. The other key members are Jay Godfrey, Trevor Major, Connie Swain and Nancy Turner. I'm a member. Darci Congrove serves as the board of trustees representative. The beauty of the makeup of the group is in the quality of our debate!

Our process, so far, has included more than 100 small-group and one-on-one interviews with people who have a vested interest in the success of German Village Society.

The task force had conversations with the chairmen of each of our major committees to better understand their work.

More than 300 people responded to our online survey, which was open for three weeks in June.

Survey-takers were, in large majority, homeowners, along with businesses, renters, people who work here, visit here and "other."

Now we're diving into the data.

There are more than 20 separate projects our meetings and the survey have asked us to consider. They include everything from fixing sidewalks, curbs and brick streets to attracting and maintaining more diverse residents and businesses.

Of course, the task force's charge is not 20 projects, it is 3-5 priorities for board consideration. And the Society doesn't, shouldn't, and can't touch everything that might be good for the neighborhood.

For example, we might learn that a lot of people want help aging in place -- but we would take those survey results and hand them off to Village Connections who is better prepared (and spun off of our Long-Range Planning Committee) to tackle those issues.

Other projects will result in direct service by the German Village Society. Some will ask us to focus our attention on certain city, county or state entities to get things done. Others will require us to raise substantial money or find grant opportunities.

So, this week we start assessing what you told us. Our criteria to judge the 20-plus items and start ranking the Society's ability to impact any given idea include: community need and support, meaning the inputs of the survey and interviews; achievability, which means whether GVS can affect the topic; enhancement of the historic characteristics of German Village (mission-centric stuff); long-term impact, meaning projects that have staying power/shelf life/lasting impact; and of course the cost/benefit analysis, meaning actual project costs plus staff plus volunteer/board time plus resources compared against benefits of that investment.

We will report out to the board in mid-September.

But here's where I hope to maintain YOUR attention.

What we've learned in our study of past plans and project successes is that every great idea needs a champion.

With the brainpower and passion of this neighborhood, thousands of great ideas have been pursued by German Village Society over the years.

Those that succeed tend to have a leading champion or two -- someone from the community that wants to see a project happen so passionately that he/she throws themselves into it with all they've got.

So, watch our progress and stay tuned for the outcomes. We'll be looking for who among you can help make our plans reality.

German Village Society Executive Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column.