Every place has a “story”, which is usually hidden beneath the surface. Stories are important as they help shape what we think about a place and whether we’ll visit, invest in or even care about it. Humans are hardwired to respond to stories.
Cities, neighbourhoods and places are shaped by the way people think about them. A place can suffer a negative run on confidence if enough people decide it’s declining. But a struggling neighborhood can also be turned around by a small group of leaders and innovators.
Believe it or not, Melbourne was not always a cool place. It was decidedly uncool in the 1990s. It was boring. Liquor laws were very restrictive and innovation was very hard work. But there were leaders who believed it could and should be better. They performed “illegal acts of love” (which broke some bureaucratic rules in a good way) to help activate Melbourne’s laneways, which up until that point were just places for rubbish bins and junkies. Liquor laws were changed and innovative businesses were promoted. And the result? Melbourne became cool and these initial successes bred more success. It became a positive spiral upwards.
Try and nail your place’s story in three or four sentences. Then aim for a positive vision for the future. What do you want it to become? You need to get people on board to help make the vision a reality.
Spend time on a compelling, positive vision and you’ll bring lots of people with you!
There probably isn’t a vision for your place (though do check with your local government though to make sure) yet. If there’s nothing formal to build on, working with businesses and residents on a vision for the future of your place is probably the best thing you can do.
How do you capture suggestions for your vision, you ask? You could throw a street party or some other event. Walk around asking for people’s ideas, or set up a suggestions booth. Or you could run an online survey with Survey Monkey. Online surveys are easy and free ways to find out what people would like to see happen.
The more you put into your vision, the more you’ll get out of it!