The fellows name was Bliss. As with most people who become an historic milestone, Mr. Henry Bliss never knew
that unexpected death would bestow a dubious form of immortality. He simply stepped from the New York City streetcar that September afternoon in 1899, and became the nations first pedestrian struck and killed by an automobile. Today’s editorial in the Kingman Daily Miner about the world’s first museum dedicated exclusively to the electric vehicle led me to reflect on Bliss, his demise, and how there is little new under the sun.
The electric vehicle museum in Kingman, Arizona was born of a limited partnership between the city and the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation during the Route 66 International Festival in 2014, an event that was aptly themed Kingman: Crossroads of the Past & Future. For reasons not understood the museum has never progressed beyond the initial stage even though it garners international media attention and the collection continues to grow. The prestigious Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles recently donated 15 historically significant vehicles.
With the growing popularity of the electric vehicle, the relative obscurity of its history and the role it played in the development of the American auto industry is rather surprising. Likewise with why the city hasn’t been more aggressive to develop the museum and capitalize on such a marketing opportunity.
In my work as a tourism development consultant, a component of Jim Hinckley’s America, I see similar problems in communities, even those with a Route 66 connection that is akin to having the Willy Wonka golden Ticket. Simply put, tourism is not often viewed in the context of economic development even thought the two are inseparable. Bill Thomas that has spearheaded a rather dramatic and profitable transformation of diminutive Atlanta, Illinois put it his way. “Not all economic development is tourism but all tourism is economic development.”
More often than not, the awakening begins at the bottom with passionate grassroots initiatives and then percolates to the level of city government. As a result, funding for various promotional initiatives, including the hiring or a developmental consultant, is often in short supply. That was a primary reason for the launch of a crowdfunding initiative that provides a sort of subsidy for communities with a limited budget for retention of my services, or in the case of Kingman, to allow me to work directly with grassroots initiatives.
Recently my work as a consultant took an interesting turn. The City of Cuba in Missouri has retained my services which has required a crash course on telecommuting. I am rather excited by the possibilities that this opportunity represents. My dearest friend and I are quite enamored with the community, and see awesome potential for its development in the realm of tourism. I am most appreciative of the partial sponsorship which will allow attendance of the second European Route 66 Festival in Zlin, Czechia. This will represent my first opportunity to promote Cuba to an international audience.
As I discover, and learn, I am confident that we will have a great deal to discuss. Stay tuned. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by all that Cuba has to offer. I might even be able to regale you with humorous tales of old desert folk adapting to an Ozark Mountains fall.