Last Thursday night, all the Working on Walnut committees reconvened for a one-year anniversary meeting at the Community Building.
I have to say it was two hours well spent. Those in attendance heard reports from each committee that highlighted their accomplishments, what they’ve learned the past year and what their future goals are. We also participated in a few activities and ended the night with a short discussion on the Fritz building on Main Street and WOW’s involvement in helping address the problem.
It was great to have Gisele Hamm and Linda Lee Blaine from the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs in attendance. They facilitated our five original MAPPING meetings at this time last year and do a wonderful job. The WOW committees still keep in contact with them and they have kept us accountable with our quarterly reports.
I said this last night when I opened the meeting and I will say it again. This past year of WOW exceeded my expectations.
When the Chamber originally made plans to invest in the MAPPING program, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew it would be a good investment for Walnut, and I and the Chamber board knew the timing was right to gather the citizens of Walnut to make positive changes. As a Chamber board, we do our best. But with a core group of eight people, we can only do so much. With WOW involving close to 50-60 people, there is power in numbers.
Let’s take a look at some of the accomplishments from the past year of WOW. It’s an impressive list.
Little Free Library dedication and ribbon cutting, two Cash Mob’s supporting local businesses, painted downtown flower boxes, decorated downtown windows for various events, held a town meeting, decorated the town for Walnut Days/4th of July, Walnut rocks hunt, mattress sale fundraiser, formed a 501(c)(3) called Main Street Revitalization, held two Nerf wars, updated planters for the fall and decorated for Fall Fest on Main, Family Fun Run/Walk at Fall Fest on Main, Chili Cook-Off at Fall Fest on Main, 50/50 raffle and bake sale during garage sales, set up a Go Fund Me campaign for Main Street Revitalization, organized the business scavenger hunt for Christmas Open House weekend, held a sledding party, and made progress in the planning for a community walking and bike trail.
Finally, the big one - the renovation of the building at 126 South Main Street, which is now the new home of Pass it Along. This was a HUGE project with many volunteers working together towards one goal.
In our original WOW meetings last year, Gisele and Linda Lee asked us a simple question: Walnut is a great town to live in, but…. Each committee member had to fill in the blank.
Two of the biggest responses were vacant buildings on Main Street and no grocery store.
One year later - we have a grocery store and we have addressed one building on Main Street!
There has been progress. There is hope. With the great people we have in Walnut, sky’s the limit on what we can accomplish in 2018.
If you are interested in becoming a part of WOW, let’s talk. Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week and remember to shop Walnut whenever you can!