Recently, I attended the Anchor Institution Task Force annual meeting in Chicago where several communities and anchor institutions met to share ideas and discuss challenges they face in revitalizing their respective cities. It is always great to listen and learn from other communities as well as to share the work that we are doing here on the Medical Campus.
I left the conference optimistic about our work and the direction we are taking through our MutualCity methodology. Our focus on collaboration, innovation and investing our resources in areas where we can make a difference is working. We’ve seen tangible benefits in terms of building partnerships, engaging local residents, testing new energy and transportation models, building an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and improving access to safe and healthy living. We hope that what we are doing in this area can help our city be a model for others. Over my next few blogs, I will be talking about each of these focus areas and introducing our team members leading each of these initiatives.
MutualCity cannot be done alone. Collaborating with those who share values and goals are key. In many instances, the best partners tend to be diverse and often unlikely. It might take time to form and move forward, but doing it right is key. As the African proverb tells us, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
At the conference, I learned about Chicago’s approach to neighborhood engagement that has inspired us to build on our neighborhood outreach. To date, we have had positive results with initiatives that connect local residents with jobs and business opportunities, provided us a better understanding of transportation challenges, and that have led us to create programs such as our recent campus-wide vendor fair, linking local businesses to those who make purchasing decisions.
This past weekend we implemented an idea that our friends at the University of Chicago shared with us and we hosted an informal lunch with some neighborhood friends to continue to stay in touch and to hear their perspective on neighborhood issues. It is something we plan to do often with residents and business owners in our adjacent neighborhoods. The lunch was very productive, but more importantly, it brought me back to a very obvious, but often overlooked foundation to make collaborations successful – trust.
What sparked this realization was when I walked into the local restaurant and instantly re-connected with Mrs. Davis, a seasoned leader in the neighborhood who we worked with during the formation of our campus, and Mrs. Ware, considered the “Godmother” of the Fruit Belt neighborhood. Our relationship has developed over the past 10+ years based on many conversations and interactions. Trust was built, allowing for opportunities to bloom.
In our society today technology is everywhere and is important. However, as communities work to move forward it is important to use technologies as tools and continue to rely on personal interactions and candid conversations. It is amazing what can happen when people talk – especially over lunch.