SHOUTING FROM THE SOAP BOX, ROAD TRIP, AND THIS AMAZING THING WE CALL ROUTE 66
The swirl of events, developments, opportunities, presentations, adventures, meetings, planning sessions, and projects in the past few weeks has left me a bit dizzy and quite tired. Soon, however, we will again be on the road and even though the schedule is packed chock full of meetings, conferences, and presentations, there will be ample time for meeting with friends along the way
There is something quite therapeutic about a road trip, especially if it involves Route 66, adventures on Route 66 with my dearest friend, the business of Route 66, and the delightful people who give the Route 66 experience the sense of infectious vibrancy that makes it unique.
This amazing thing that we call Route 66 defies description. It is a community and an extended family, it is a storied old highway and the place of dreams, it is inspiration and desperation, it is the ultimate American road trip and a ribbon of endless opportunity.
In the past few weeks alone I have provided assistance to Czech and French television crews, met with tour groups or tour company owners from Canada, China, Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand and Australia, and enjoyed dinner and adventures with friends from several countries as well as a couple of states. I have also made presentations for tour groups and fund raisers, had initial meetings with companies looking to retain my services as a consultant, played Indiana Jones in the search for historic signage, worked my way through a bit of a cold and a family crisis or two, scheduled meetings during the pending trip, prepared presentations to be made in the next few weeks, and finalized most travel arrangements.
In my spare time I finished the final edit for a book, acquired a couple of new sponsors for Jim Hinckley’s America, finalized the shooting of the first installment of Jim Hinckley’s America – Trek Across Route 66, kicked off a morning walkabout video series, and agreed to begin providing blog posts for Promote Kingman, a sort of 21st century chamber of commerce. As noted previously, boredom and I are not well acquainted.
Now, a little bit of shouting from the soap box. Kingman, as with most communities, has its share of problems and arm chair quarterbacks with ideas on how to fix the problems without getting their hands dirty. We also have made some pretty impressive accomplishments, especially over the course of the last few years.
Much of this will be the subject of my presentation at the Miles of Possibilities Conference in Bloomington, Illinois on October 22.
In the past 18 months there has been a dramatic transformation in the city’s historic business district. Partnerships are being developed between city government and aggressively proactive organizations such as the Route 66 Association of Kingman. Investors are purchasing properties, renovating properties, or demolishing decrepit structures and instituting new construction.
Neon signage is adding to the sense of vibrancy. Likewise with unique events and the opening of unique and eclectic shops.
Still, the owner of a newspaper, who also happens to be the president of a civic organization insists on printing inflammatory and tabloid type stories and editorials filled with selective omission. Obviously, the result is the fostering of divisions, the hampering of initiatives, and hindering development of some cooperative partnerships.
This article is the most recent of these editorials. Note that he indicates it was a closed door meeting and yet provides the date and city phone number. He failed to give the location or note that it was an open and informal meeting between city officials and property owners to discuss ways that they could work together to foster revitalization in the historic business district as well as along the Route 66 corridor. It should also be noted that he failed to attend.
My reason for discussing this wasn’t just to rant. Every community suffers with individuals such as this. Not all, however, enjoy the luxury of owning a newspaper.
The primary reason for sharing this was to offer encouragement. Kingman is an example that you can work around obstacles such as this and accomplish great things. When confronted by frustrations such as this, consider it little more than a bur under the saddle or a stone in the shoe, and work towards building cooperative partnerships as well as a sense of community. I am rather confident that initiatives such as this will simply wither on the vine when confronted with glaring and obvious accomplishment.