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Time To Turn Visions Into Strategies For 'Transform Rockford'

Susan Stephens

Hundreds of people showed up last night for a brainstorming session about how to make Rockford a better community. Transform Rockfordheld its first strategy planning meeting for the public: they hope to have a detailed plan by early next year to make the Rockford a “top 25 community” by 2025.

Visitors to the event held at the YMCA in Rockford stopped by idea stations around the gym to talk with lead volunteers about specific interest areas:

  • Safety
  • Healthy Lifestyles
  • Education
  • Economy and Jobs
  • Planning
  • Funding and Alignment
  • Quality
  • Physical Infrastructure
  • Families and Neighborhoods
  • Leadership and Youth
  • Arts and Recreation
  • Unity, Pride, and Culture

Tikisha Ellis says she came out to volunteer because she is “all about the community.” She had ideas to share about healthy lifestyles: she’d like to see neighborhood gatherings where people can get together to try fruits and vegetables. She’d start with zucchini and squash.

Ellis knows what she’s talking about. The 29-year-old is a food service manager for Rockford Public Schools. She worked her way up from substitute cook to lead cook to management in just three years. She also contributed some advice to the “Economy and Jobs” group: she wanted them to know there are many job opportunities in Rockford schools.

Anisha Grimmett is a co-leader of the group focusing on families and neighborhoods. She says there were “a lot of people with a lot of great ideas” at the event. She says she found people weren’t presenting her with solutions to all of the city’s problems: instead, most wanted to talk about what they love about their own neighborhoods. Her group, like all the others, will take Wednesday’s public input into consideration as they continue to work toward their strategic plan of action.

LoRayne Logan calls the turnout and participation “phenomenal.” She is part of Transform Rockford’s steering committee. Next up in the long process of “transforming Rockford?” Logan says ideas are still needed from the public: a half dozen meetings have been scheduled to delve more deeply into specific teams and initiatives.

Upcoming Idea Exchanges

Living the Brand – Communications: July 23, 5:30 pm, at Burpee Museum

Education – Leadership and Youth: July 30, 5:30 pm Guilford High School

Economy & Jobs – Physical Infrastructure – Quality: August 4, 5:30, TBA

Unity Pride Culture – Family & Neighborhoods – Arts & Rec: August 6, 5:30 pm,                                                 Levings Park

Planning – Funding & Alignment: August 11, 5:30 pm, RMAP

Safety – Healthy Lifestyles: August 25, 5:30 pm, YMCA

Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.
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