Every plan ever created always gets implemented exactly as you planned, right?

Of course not. In fact, few plans ever do. I had no idea how my approach to strategic planning would be forever changed by joining the Transform Rockford movement. Plans are vital for unity and transformation to happen.

When I signed up for the Transform Rockford movement in 2013 I had no idea what would happen next. Since then, it has a been a journey of change for our community and me personally. I even took a risk, stepping away from a comfortable position in urban planning, and joined the staff team in 2016 to help set the stage, facilitate and strategize implementation through community-based projects.

Personally, I have discovered that transformation is not just a program, it’s a way of life.

Throughout the past five years many of you signed on to the belief and hope that our community could change, and dramatically improve the social and economic conditions for all people to thrive. And, wow you did it with intensity! Over 3,000 people participated in a series of climbs, from vision and strategy development to launching transformational projects.

Climbing the Top 25 Summit

Individuals like you helped to create a vision and plan that is not only sustainable but certainly attainable. In fact, I think of the Transform Rockford movement and our journey to become a “top 25 community by 2025” as a summit. When you reach a new summit you see the world from a different vantage point and see possibilities. If you’ve ever climbed a mountain, or large hill, you know that you can’t scale it all at once. The climb becomes more about the journey, than the destination.

While it has not been fast and easy as some may have hoped, it is rewarding to see over 35 community-based projects and initiatives happening in our region to get us to become a “Top 25” community. Hundreds of volunteer and stakeholder organizations are actively working on initiatives from projects like the Ready to Learn (Education) and 815 Choose Civility (Leadership & Youth) to Rockford Area Case Management Initiative (Collective Impact) and Great Neighborhoods (Families & Neighborhoods).

And you, everyone who is reading this article, are in the midst of our community’s “comeback” journey. If we all collaborate to cultivate and support an environment of commitment that fully engages our community’s differences and diversity, embraces our strengths, strives for integrity, pursues excellence and accountability and partners to achieve our vision, our city, then our businesses and our residents will thrive.

Two Immediate Ways You Can Get Engaged

The community believed there was a need to focus on 14 key areas to be “Top 25.” If you haven’t been a part of the movement, or unfamiliar with the community plan, I encourage you to connect and discover what’s happening. We’re creating experiences that will make the large plan feel meaningful, manageable, and worth your time to engage.

I invite you attend the Transform Rockford Pop-Up event on Friday, April 5 from 3 – 7 PM at Rockford Art Deli (RAD) in downtown Rockford. The Transform Rockford engagement support team is creating an experience to Live the Brand, help you see our community with new eyes, and engage in the transformation movement. If nothing else, you’ll also meet and connect with other individuals climbing the “Top 25” summit in a fun and welcoming environment. For more information, visit our website at www.transformrockford.org.

I hope to see you on Friday, April 5 and I hope you, too, will consider joining us on the journey to transform our region to make it a better place for us all to live, work and invest!

David Sidney is the Executive Director of Transform Rockford.