What’s Your Verb for 2016?
There are a lot of things we, as a community, want for San Antonio by the year 2020. We want our city to be more educated and employed, more sustainable and active, more connected and competitive. How do we sum that up? How can we take these countless adjectives and succinctly describe the city we’ve envisioned? At SA2020, we’ve decided to go with “world-class.”
Becoming “world-class” requires everything from arts to walkability. And getting there requires everything we’ve got. Basically, to achieve all those adjectives, we need lots and lots of verbs.
That’s why we hosted our DreamWeek event: “Realizing the Dream of a World-Class City: Driving Action in San Antonio.” We wanted to get together with some organizations and individuals who are helping transform our city and remind everyone that we truly need everyone to take action to help further that transformation.
This awesome panel event featured Andres Andujar from Hemisfair, Sandy Morander from YMCA of Greater San Antonio, Sho Nakpodia from DreamWeek, Ron Nirenberg of City Council District 8, and Molly Cox from SA2020.
They talked education, civic engagement, outdoor space, sports, transportation and why we need a shared vision to improve all of that and more. And while we may be falling short in some areas, Molly said it’s the vision itself that really sets us apart from other communities. “Nowhere do you see a city own a vision as much as San Antonio owns it.”
Sandy Morander, President and CEO of YMCA of Greater San Antonio, said she already sees real change because of that vision. She moved here five years ago after working in the same role in Boston, and she said she initially saw very few people walking, biking, or running in San Antonio. Now, she told us, “Our commitment to outdoor space and activity is palpable.” That doesn’t just pass the eye test; San Antonio’s obesity rate is on track to meet our 2020 goal.
Councilmember Ron Nirenberg sees progress too, but he also sees many ways to make our city “more resilient.” That’s how he would define success. And first and foremost, resiliency requires an engaged community. “Everything boils down to how we build civic engagement.”
Andres Andujar agreed. The CEO of the Hemisfair Area Redevelopment Corporation certainly believes wonderful parks and connected spaces are an important piece of making San Antonio greater, but he said it’s the people who can make our city world-class. “Do more,” he told the audience simply.
For Sho Nakpodia, DreamWeek founder, the ability to do more is part of what drew him to San Antonio. Originally from Nigeria, Sho has traveled around a lot and thought about many other cities. Other big cities seemed already “complete” to him, but San Antonio, a city on the rise, had potential. There’s potential to get involved, build, interact, teach, or found a movement like DreamWeek.
The panelists and moderator Robert Rivard touched on a lot of topics, but that was what each of them wanted the audience to take away from the night. There’s great opportunity for community members to take action, and it’s the most important part of turning San Antonio into a world-class city.
This Martin Luther King Day weekend was a great example of action and collaboration. On Saturday, we partnered with the MLK Commission, and several other awesome organizations, to present the “My City, Our Community” Youth Summit, where 1st-12th graders shared what they want for their futures.
And on Monday, 300,000 people joined San Antonio’s Martin Luther King, Jr. March, setting a record attendance for the nation’s largest MLK Day March. We marched not just in commemoration of Dr. King’s legacy, but in celebration of what we can continue to achieve when we work together. As Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert said from the stage, “Vision without action is just a dream.”
Molly told us on Wednesday that you don’t need to be the president of an organization or a City Council member to create that action. You just need to translate your passion into a verb. If you need a little help, check out our wonderful partners. There’s at least one for every passion, and all rely on community action. We’re so excited to see how, in 2016, we can all develop, initiate, motivate, vote, speak, guide, solve, mentor, explore, (and on and on and on).