When someone asked the other day about why they should participate in the upcoming “Rec Fest” I was a bit stunned and a bit in awe.
It had never occurred to me that there was any other train of thought than where I stood: “Community commitment makes a capable community.”
I have been active in many different communities in the 30 years of my being in the newspaper and communications business. My job required that I become acquainted with local civic organizations, state and local governments, city and town councils, and most of all, the residents.
Each community has its own call to action, its own drive to serve, and its own passion for the common good. While it varies widely from region to region, town to town, it always surfaces.
When a natural disaster strikes, a community throws aside race, color, creed and religion as individuals step up to help one another. When a man-made disaster disrupts a section of town, residents step forward with immediacy and nary a care for their own personal needs.
For that brief window, we are all one body, with one effort.
The other arena that brings most residents together are the civic activities, like the Rec Fest in Boise, Dairy Days in Meridian, or the Breakfast on the Bank in Idaho Falls.
These activities not only strengthen a community’s ties, but also give an outlet to residents to see other community members in a different setting or light. It should never be assumed fun should not be had.
The Downtown Boise Association’s efforts to liven the summer months with the “Alive After Five” programs are a great example of civic pride and involvement. Its sole purpose is to lift the spirits of the residents and unite them in a common cause.
While chamber of commerce promotes business activities, speakers bureaus, luncheons awards and such, the economic development partners are there to lobby for government and communities’ business opportunities.
Talking with Grow Idaho Falls CEO Linda Martin this past week she said civic activities play a vital role in attracting new businesses to the area and business plays a vital role in civic activities.
But, chambers open the door and provide that additional voice to businesses to show off their products, opportunities and services.
“Civic activities are just a part of life that you have in a community,” she said.
In Idaho Falls, the economic development groups are pushing an event center that would provide more opportunities for civic participation, opening a venue to allow more community involvement and activities.
“I think that sometimes businesses need an additional voice to help them in the community to let know who they are, and gives them a chance to provide leadership, volunteerism,” she said. “Then you have the civic clubs as well.”
The chamber, convention and visitors bureau in Idaho Falls, along with Grow Idaho Falls, is working toward a convention center.
“We feel that if we have a larger venue, we could encourage more activities for civic, business and government groups,” she said.
The number of organizations that are out there promoting a community will have an effect on whether a business selects a community.
If a community doesn’t show it’s alive, businesses will not want to be part of the community.
So, why should I be involved in “Rec Fest?” The answer is obvious: Become part of your community.
Robb Hicken is managing editor of the Idaho Business Review and will be at the “Explore Idaho” booth Saturday night and Sunday afternoon as part of Rec Fest ’10 June 26-27.