Dries Bessels of the Dutch Route 66Association, left, and Bob Lile, Amarilloartist with their “major” awards at the 2014Route 66 International Festival.
Yesterday afternoon I received notice from Cheryl Eichar Jett that the conference and workshops that were to take place at the Wildey Theater in Edwardsville, Illinois this October are canceled. Needless to say, this was quite a disappointment.
I, for one, was quite excited about the potential of this endeavor as it represented the next evolutionary step in the building of a renewed sense of community as well as community purpose that commenced with the historic conference in Anaheim, and that continued with the Route 66 Crossroads of the past and Future conference at the 2014 Route 66 International Festival in Kingman, Arizona, and the creation of the steering committee.
The 2014 Route 66 International Festival last August exemplified the sense of community that is found among Route 66 enthusiasts. It was also an incredible manifestation of the passion, the spirit, and the dedication of the international Route 66 community.
Unfortunately, just as with the cancellation of the events in Edwardsville, it was also another glaring indictment of the inability of existent organizations to meet the multifaceted needs of the Route 66 community, or to provide the needed support structure. This is not to say that the individuals at the helm of most of those organizations lack passion and zeal for the Route 66 community. After all, a few of them have played instrumental roles in the launching of the Route 66 renaissance.
Simply put, for a wide array of reasons the organizations they created and that they lead are short staffed as well as under funded. Unfortunately, all to often these shortcomings are magnified by a severe case of overreach with the result being an inability to follow through on promises, which in turn fosters divisions. It also results in well intended initiatives that fall flat, which in turn leads to discouragement.
These are reasons why my hopes for the fostering of that sense of community rest on the steering committee facilitated by the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and the World Monuments Fund. Though my patience has been sorely tested by what appears to be a glacial speed of development, it has become increasingly apparent that the Route 66 community will be better served by an organization that is built on a solid foundation than one that is built on hollow promises, hopes, dreams, and good intentions.
I am quite confident that shortly after the steering committee meeting of February 24, you will see public demonstrations of intent and follow through that will justify my overall enthusiasm for this historic initiative. Meanwhile, I will be working on an idea for an alternative means of ensuring that the concepts and benefits of the cancelled conference is brought to fruition.