Inspired Action: Happy 101st Birthday Chula Vista!

One of the great experiences of my career has been helping the City of Chula Vista celebrate their 100th birthday in 2011 and implement a Centennial Year of Service community-wide. As the Centennial Manager, I had the privilege of working with the local community group Chula Vista 100 Board of Directors, Mayor Cheryl Cox, City of Chula Vista staff, volunteers, residents, and businesses to create a year of events and projects culminating in the publication of an award-winning book “Chula Vista Centennial: A Century of People and Progress,” a community concert and DVD showcasing more than 300 local professionals and students in the performance arts, and a 100th birthday party free to the community at the Olympic Training Center that drew 25,000 people.

Looking back on this community-wide project a year later, here are two of the most powerful things I’ve learned:

1) I am still in awe of what amazing things can happen when people come together for a greater purpose and are willing to do whatever it takes to create a place that all people can call “Home.” Motivating and inspiring a city to celebrate how far people have traveled, not just physically or time-wise to get somewhere, but emotionally, socially, and spiritually is daunting. Everyone has a story to tell and it’s not always positive. Everyone want to be heard, and it’s not always easy to listen.  But always, there is the potential for growth and change and homecoming. For me, Chula Vista went from being a city South of San Diego in my mind, to the most vibrant, alive, creative group of family and friends in my heart who continues to challenge me to stretch, grow, and love more deeply into the person I want to be for myself and others.

2) Teaching our children about their city’s history, reaching out to them in classrooms, and bringing them to local City Council meetings is critical to building future community leaders who are as compassionate as they are strong and understand what it takes to run a city, especially when there are so many different perspectives and ways of doing things. I will be forever grateful to Mayor Cheryl Cox and Councilmember Pamela Bensoussan for their leadership, insight, encouragement and the mountains they move/d in the City to make it a great place for everyone to call Home.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead sum up this experience so well: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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