Group To Reveal Vision For Rockford Tonight

Jul 9, 2014

It has taken hundreds of people pulling together at dozens of community meetings to get to this point: tonight, the group “Transform Rockford” will reveal its draft of a vision for the city at a rally at the Coronado Theater, starting at 6:30.

Transform Rockford's Mike Schablaske and the Rock River, on the river walk behind Riverfront Museum Park.
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Some Rockford residents are fighting back:  they want their city to transcend high unemployment and “worst place to live” lists. So they’ve joined the Transform Rockford effort to set a course for a better future.  Transform Rockford was founded by a group of business leaders: it uses strategic planning methods to get the community involved in identifying problems, setting goals, and developing a plan to reach them. Mike Schablaske is executive director for Transform Rockford. He says this process will take years, and the community must be patient and persistent.

“Lot of times, we used to try to rally around the smartest person with the best idea and the best plan.And we’re saying the best ideas and the best plans will be developed by bringing everybody into it. So we don’t start with specifics, we build them together. So that’s a little foreign to some people, I think.”

So far, Transform Rockford has developed a list of shared values based on months of public input, and will unveil a draft vision of goals for the city. Schablaske says outsiders are taking notice of the process and offering help…they’re welcome, but it’s still up to Rockford residents to help develop their city’s own solutions.

Schablaske says one of the most important outcomes of this years-long process is seeing who emerges as the city’s next leaders. People might get a chance to prove themselves tonight: teams of volunteers are being formed to take on each goal for the city.