I want you to do something before you read this column. I want you to think about Columbus. Think about what you hate about it, what you like about it, what you wish was different. What do we need here? What would make this a city you would want to live in, and not just a stepping stone to someplace else? Is it a new concert venue? Organic food? More walkable streets? More nightlife? What does Columbus need to be a better city for you?
It’s an important question, because last February, Columbus State University joined forces with 22 other community partners to find out- and then to make it happen. It’s called “Together 2016,” and it is a project that Rodney Mahone, publisher of the Ledger-Enquirer newspaper, had been waiting to launch for years. After selling the paper’s old headquarters to CSU and moving across from the RiverCenter, Mahone said that he knew the time was right. “You can just feel the energy on this end of Broadway, and I just thought that this was the perfect time to do something about our community. There’s just such a sense of optimism and excitement about what the future holds for Columbus, and I just wanted to do something that sort of enhanced that and allowed others within the community to understand just how great [it] is.” Here’s how it works.
The project, led by Mahone and the Ledger, has brought together 23 partners, including CSU, Aflac, Troy University, TSYS and Synovus. Each partner has contributed a little money to a fund, and with that money, Together 2016 will do two things. One will be a “multimedia marketing campaign to tell the story of this community…in a way that hopefully resonates with folks who live here.” It’ll be something to make us proud and excited to be a part of this city- but I think the second part is even more interesting. Some of that money that the 23 partners donated will be used to create a permanent project that leaves a “lasting impression” on the community.
But what kind of project? Well, right now, if you go to buildingabettercolumbus. com, you can submit an idea for what you want to see in Columbus. It doesn’t have to be detailed or researched- just an idea. Bike routes? Community policing? Recycling? Whatever you think Columbus needs, Together 2016 intends to help make it happen. In late summer, representatives from all of the partners will come together and figure out which ideas they want to tackle and make real. But they can’t succeed without our input. I’ve already submitted four ideas- can you do better?