I am now within spitting distance of sixty. No matter how
hard I squint, fifty isn’t visible in the rear view mirror any longer. One lesson learned many, many years ago is that every second counts. Part two of that lesson is this – with the passing of each year, the awareness that every second counts increases exponentially. Linked with this is an old adage that the older one gets the faster time goes. I am not familiar with any empirical evidence that provides validity to this statement but can attest to the fact that the world flying past the windows is quite blurred as of late.
Yesterday, or so it seems, it was Monday. Between then and now there has been a few meals shared with friends, the recording of several new podcast episodes and the publication of one (Jim Hinckley’s America podcast), completion of the rough draft for another book and initiation of the writing of the first chapter for another one, a few meetings, a revamping of the blog format (did you notice that there is now a tip jar in the top menu bar and in the sidebar for those wanting to leave a little something for the storyteller?), and another Facebook live program.
My dearest friend and I in the home of the late Willem Bor, and his charming wife Monique. Our first meal in the Netherlands was enjoyed in their home.
A rare B-17 at the former Kingman Army Airfield, and an
early morning conversation with internationally acclaimed artist Gregg Arnold, photographer Herberta Schroeder of Wind Swept Images, and Michelle Drumheller who is organizing a family reunion for the family of pioneering rancher Tap Duncan, that is how my day started. In short, another day, another colorful adventure. This is Jim Hinckley’s America. If that seems like a plug, well, I suppose that it is.
In retrospect it started simply enough. I wanted to write, to share the history of the American auto industry as well as tales of adventure on the road less traveled in the hope that it would inspire people to do a bit of exploring. After the publication of a few dozen feature articles for various magazines, I had an opportunity to write a book. That had been a dream since childhood and so I wrote a little book about the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company.
That was followed by an interesting project that carried the odd title of The Big Book of Car Culture. In essence this was a Jerry Seinfeld type of project, a book about nothing. Jon Robinson and I wrote short stories about everything auto related from the history of highway striping and speedometers to Route 66 and Harley Davidson. (more…)
This morning I enjoyed a brief but interesting discussion
with KC Keefer, the brilliant videographer behind the Genuine Route 66 series and a series of videos on forgotten places such as the Painted Desert Trading Post and Glenrio in partnership with Dr. Nick Gerlich. The topic of conversation was Route 66 as a catalyst for economic development and revitalization in rural communities. As that has been the subject of recent Jim Hinckley’s America blog posts as well as Facebook live programs, I found his insights and thoughts to be particularly relevant.
In building the foundation for economic development in a community, tourism as a primary component is a very poor choice. However, tourism should always be considered a component in the creation of an economic development plan, especially in a community that has Route 66 as the main street through its historic business district. Additionally, in these communities all marketing should include a Route 66 element. The popularity of the road will magnify these type of initiatives. often with tremendous results.
As important as Route 66 in in regards to marketing or revitalization initiatives, myopic focus on what Route 66 was can be as detrimental as not using it at all. It is imperative that a community also focus on the future. As an example consider the embryonic Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum in Kingman, Arizona. In addition, Route 66 should also be utilized as a means for showcasing the unique attributes of a community. If a town can blend these components in a single package, and has the leadership needed to get community buy in, it will be transformed, regardless of rural location or size. (more…)
Why do some communities along Route 66 thrive, and
others continue the decline precipitated by the highways bypass. Why is Pontiac or Cuba a destination for legions of international travelers as well as entrepreneurs? In regards to tourism development, why do some communities such as Kingman or Tucumcari move forward at glacial speeds or even stagnate even though their tourism related assets far outnumber those found in Pontiac or Cuba? Why is Seligman a beehive of activity but Ash Fork flirts with becoming a ghost town?
On numerous occasions I have addressed these thoughts and related issues in blog posts. In recent years I have also made numerous presentations on the subject in various communities, and assisted with the development and marketing of events. However, over the course of the past year my involvement with tourism as a catalyst for economic development has broadened. It has included a stint as a marketing development consultant for Ramada Kingman, a role I now play for Grand Canyon Caverns, and some representative work for the City of Kingman. I am also involved with the innovative Promote Kingmaninitiative, and proudly serve on the economic development committee for the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership, formerly the Route 66: Road Ahead Initiative steering committee.