July 29, 2012

A PERSONAL LESSON- Look before you leap! 

A personal passion for the river led me into a bit of a mess. 

Having been totally engaged in the revitalization of the Central Riverfront for 15 years, and currently functioning as the facilitator of the Visitor’s Experience, a year ago I willingly volunteered to take part in the Above the Falls focus of the Minneapolis Riverfront Corporation.

My involvement got off to a slow start – I attended a big kickoff meeting at RSP; I went to a board meeting at the Wilde Roast that became somewhat uncomfortable as I sat with the Director and a couple other volunteers for over an hour, after we had been asked to leave the meeting so the board could hold a private discussion; I became a volunteer on the Communications Committee, despite never quite getting a description of what that committee was to do.

I attended a few meetings, a few more Board Meetings, and tried my best to embrace the cause.

But at every turn, I sensed issues of concern.   “Central Riverfront” representatives that I  did not know with a very different focus;  and  little knowledge of East Bank, East Channel Plans, revitalization of Hennepin Island, and similar actions that came from the Power of the Falls study and recommendations. When they recommended ignoring the Gateway I thought it strange, but it was not real a red flag…yet.

I was more concerned about a continually complaining member of the Above the Falls group that took every opportunity to whine that they have been visualizing Above the Falls for ten years, and nothing has been done about it yet.  Since the visualization of the Central Riverfront can be traced back to 1973, ten years did not seem a tragedy considering the overlapping governing agencies involved combined with 4-5 years of the Great Recession,  and a lot of agency repositioning of priorities, but what did I know? 

So I continued on, trying to understand the issues and concerns and what seemed to me as an outsider, as in-fighting.  I volunteered to spend 8-10 hours a week to help the Executive Director administratively this past Jan –Feb when I was not busy with events of my own.  My goal was to learn how to better relate to what they wanted, and how they expected to accomplish  what they sought using the model they had in place.

Then, one board member shared she, too, did events, and invited me for coffee to “get to know each other”.  Unsuspecting, I went.  And was totally unprepared when I sensed she was surreptitiously trying to manipulate me into FIXING some issues WITHIN THE BOARD (of which I was not a member, but just a willing volunteer).  I was totally amazed, but again, I just could not visualize how this group could be this childish and dysfunctional.  However, now my antennae were up, for sure.

One of the last meetings I attended, we were brain-storming  the event that eventually emerged as that which was held last week- on River Vitality.  I suggested that perhaps we should reach out to Don Shelby  as the MC for the event. I shared the history of his involvement in Grand Excursion, relationship with St. Paul Riverfront Corp, and his role as narrator of several pieces for the National Park Service.  He seemed to have an affinity for the river.  I also shared that Bill at Segway had mentioned in a Central Riverfront  Meeting that he had had a conversation with Don who indicated he was interested in staying involved with the river.  The group agreed, Don became the spokesman/facilitator/MC ,  and I retreated to my own space feeling that I had done my part in sharing connections and a good idea.

I had decided it did not matter why, I was better served to remove myself and continue to focus on the area I love and am committed to – the Central River Front.  And I felt justified, as after all, I gave them the idea for the “hook” they needed to lend legitimacy to what they were doing at their event.

The event was last week and went well, I understand – I could not attend.  And this weekend, finally, I have the incentive to act on cutting those ties.  Petty as it is, I feel I was dissed when praise for the idea of using Shelby was directed elsewhere…childish reaction, I know, but it what I needed to take action.

It was a long swim to shore after I so unwittingly leaped in, but I am there now, and it’s done.


Reading that the King David was being used for a Romney fund-raiser seemed sacrilegious to me, as it immediately conjured up images of “gambling in the temple” but I guess if CMG used it for a Goalmaker Award night, I should get over my sensitivity and just admit that what bothers me is simply using that elegant wonderful old hotel for US Republican gain is more than just a little irritating to me.

Besides, my REAL issue is that holding a “public” event and excluding the press is a bit of an oxymoron.  If you make exclusions, then it is not public, right? 


Can “temporal illusions” the inaccurate perceptions of reality that can occur due to lags in neural processing become a good excuse for all that we do that we should not?


RETHINIKING is good!  Hats off to Glen Taylor for not accepting declining print needs; recognizing communications as his broader business focus; and re-inventing Taylor Corp in order to grow!  That’s 21st century thinking and something we all might consider doing!


Here’s hoping the naysayers and doubters are wrong!  I’m thinking the RE-INVENTION of the Geek Squad at Best Buy could be a huge WIN.    It is more comfortable to pass judgment based on past experience gained in an out-dated century, but scary or not, the world has changed.

Best Buy recognized a need not being filled in the MAJORITY of the digital market.   They saw an application of something Apple has done as a way to fix it.  Good for them to see the connection.

So, congrats and best luck for rethinking, re-inventing and hopefully an eventual healthy re-birth!


Thumbs down to Romney…or should I show compassion?   Maybe the differing positions when asked about his draft status in the 1960s are symptoms of  dementia but if not, the changing “story” on Vietnam is reprehensible.  In either case, THIS man as commander-in-chief?!!  Not so much.





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