the first couple of meetings, participants attempted to identify
community strengths and needs.
On Tuesday, the group worked hard over the course of
the nearly three-hour session. On the agenda was to share
achievements and set new action items for specific targeted projects
The top topics for the evening were progress on a
Web-based community information site, making social services more
known, and collaborative development of green spaces with parks and
trail plans to selectively include dog parks. These endeavors are
being led respectively by Dave Doolin, Jeanette Harris, Tom and
Brittney McLaughlin, who were all present.
Also joining the group for the evening were two
newcomers wanting to know the community better. Matt Drat and Matt
Burgess of Home Sweet Home Ministries felt that the mission of the
group was right in line with their seeking to know the community and
The two Matts first joked about Home Sweet Home's efficiency
in hiring just people named Matt. Both Matts proved quite helpful
over the course of the evening, contributing practical ideas from
how to gather information to community service —
things they have been doing within the agency they
serve in Bloomington.
Drat serves Home Sweet Home Ministries as development and community
relations manager, and Burgess is chief operations officer. As part of
his work, Burgess oversees the Lincoln Mission Mart resale business.
Home Sweet Home Ministries has been feeding the
hungry, sheltering the poor and providing other turn-around life
services in Bloomington for 75 years, and now with their purchase of
a building on Sangamon Street in Lincoln, the mission will be
expanding its services to here in Lincoln.
But first, they would like a good understanding of
what is actually needed.
"We have been here 20 years as a part
of the Lincoln community," Burgess said, "but we are looking at broadening our scope
as to 'how we are here in Lincoln.' We want to follow the lead of
The mission brings assets and experience, and it
hopes "to partner in helping the hungry and homeless and hurting,"
Burgess further explained their approach. In the old
method, the "experts" moved in too quickly. The new model is
collaborative, he said: "We have to trust the community to direct
me in how to bring the resources to bear in the most effective
The Mission Mart store is expected to move to the
new building in a few months. A job training program is part of what
is in the immediate planning.
The last topic discussed for the evening was
concerning the potential to integrate dog parks into Lincoln and
Logan County. This idea was brought forward by a couple who grew up
in Lincoln, married and moved away for a few years. They really
enjoyed the green spaces that had been developed in other
communities, particularly the dog parks. Tom and Brittney
McLaughlin said on Tuesday that they could see that the dog parks
would be best addressed in the fullest context of green spaces. A
dog park's potential usefulness is not just limited to residents who
might enjoy neighborhood use; these parks can also serve the
interests of the community through the tourism aspect.
[to top of second column]
Tom McLaughlin expressed their intentions in getting
involved: "We want to make this a place people want to stay." He
and Brittney commented on how much the use of green spaces enhanced
their lives when they were living other places. Green spaces are
important for use by youth and attract young professionals by
providing outdoor opportunities.
Brittney spoke about the importance of the trails
and green spaces that are now being planned throughout the county
and said that specific locations for various types of dog parks would
attract visitors as well as serve local residents. She hoped
support or assistance through the Humane Society, to connect
planning for trails, and to see if some local hotels might be
interested in pet owner stays for more comprehensive green space
The glimmer of a possible future community project
was hinted during introductions. The McLaughlins and Drat all have
strong theater backgrounds. The McLaughlins have a desire to see
community theater in Lincoln again.
April Doolin joined the group later in the evening. She
served in communications and as coordinator to keep forward motion. She
summarized the evening and set goals, with these
ready to be populated with information.
gathering information regarding what those who are struggling
appreciate about the place they live and what their dreams are
for their community and for themselves. This will give us an
idea of what personal development opportunities they could use
to accomplish their dreams.
Take the first
step toward getting all the social service agencies and
churches together by meeting with Doolin and Marla Blair of
Compile a list
of key stakeholders in the green space conversation.
Give Harris a
copy of some sample interview questions so she can frame things
in a way to get the most pertinent information.
Blair and set up meeting with Harris.
McLaughlin a Facebook page contributor so she can get public input on the dog
park and green space plan.
Connect Brittney with Darren Forgy and Lisa Kramer
release for next meeting.
While attendance numbers were down and the presence
of some participants was missed, several had made it known that they
would not be able to attend the session this month due to prior
The next meeting has been scheduled for Feb. 20 at 7
in the ALMH Steinfort Room.