I wanted to use this space this week to thank the donors to the German Village Society for paying my way through the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's Insight2050 Academy.

It wasn't an expensive investment in my professional development, but it was a rich experience for four Fridays in a row in March.

The insight2050 Academy brings participants together with central Ohio's leading voices to engage in thoughtful and necessary conversations about the important issues facing our region.

Participants will engage in critical thinking about planning for growth and development; develop effective communication strategies for community involvement; and grow their personal and professional networks by connecting with fellow land use professionals.

Topics include:

* What population, demographic, and lifestyle changes we can anticipate.

* How we can use Insight2050 data to prepare and shape our communities.

* Case studies and laboratory planning exercises.

* Review of case studies and synthesis and distillation of lessons learned.

I was introduced to the offering by Columbus Deputy Director of Development Rory McGuiness.

Over lunch last fall, I was sharing with Rory the German Village Society's intention to create a Vision Task Force, whose role it would be to help us think way out over the horizon.

What does German Village need to prepare for in 30 or 50 years, not just five or 10?

I had read the headlines that as many as 1 million people are expected to move to Central Ohio in the next couple decades, but the dots that Rory was able to connect for me is that the data is coming out of MORPC. And MORPC has an institute to learn more.

Insight2050 was invaluable to me, and I hope, to the neighborhood. My colleagues as students were planners, elected officials, representatives from nonprofit organizations such as Homeport, and consultants.

These folks bring completely different perspectives and professional talent to the issues of "community building" than I navigate in my role.

That made it an incredible environment to learn. Once of my favorite exchanges was with a table that was half road engineers and half city planners.

They shared an example where they wanted to put a tree line along a new street.

When they put in the grant to support that idea, they didn't get the money. Goodbye, beautification.

I spoke up and said, "But did you talk to any of the neighbors or the civic association before you just lost the trees? We might have some ideas. I might have a donor, or I might qualify for a grant for which you don't."

Aha!

With 1 million people coming to town and development pressure already arrived at German Village's front doors, we need to figure out how we embrace change and still stand on principle.

My Insight2050 experience will be fleshed out as part of our Vision Task Force, whose mandate from the German Village Society Board of Trustees says: "German Village 2050: What does it look, act, feel like?"

Yes, if preservation works -- the German Village of 50 years from now should look much like it does today.

But how will the German Village Society function? Who will it partner with? What modern conveniences will it seek out to overlay on its ultra-not-modern facades? How will people get here? Work here? Play here?

I look forward to the conversation with all of you.

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