My wife and I have begun piecing together jigsaw puzzles. It’s a ten-year cycle or something. We complete four or five puzzles a month or two and then…find another hobby. Our method is similar to our comrades of puzzledom. We start with the easy, outside edges and then pull together pieces of similar, smaller components within the puzzle. I wait until I have most of the easy parts done before I work on that miserable sky or seascape whose pieces are not defined. When we stick with it, we eventually get there.
Community development is eerily similar, with the exception that there aren’t many straight-edged pieces. In our always incomplete community mosaic, there are numerous small scenes requiring a hands-on approach putting pieces in place. When pieces are missing or don’t fit together, the hole is what catches our attention. But once one small section is done, we move to the next section. We might work on several community issues and get them right, but, just like a 1,000-piece puzzle, if we have 999 pieces in position but one piece outstanding, that gets our attention.
There are many scenes in Statesville’s puzzle. Historic Downtown has gotten a great deal of focus over the last few years. The investment of time, effort, and dollars has paid off in 200+ new downtown jobs, and a unique and powerful sense of place. There are still some missing pieces, but not many that would suggest we haven’t cobbled together a dynamic engine of activity. We must continue to make improvements on the work that has gotten us to this spot while expanding our focus into other areas.
County housing issues abound. Improvements will require more effort than simply putting components of the puzzle together. We need to educate ourselves. Workforce housing IS needed. We need to work together as public and private partners to determine our 15-year housing strategy.
Jobs are plentiful, but a soft, skilled workforce is not. There are interesting bedfellows working on a number of workforce development initiatives. Together, we will strategically develop workforce/talent opportunities that will receive accolades far and wide. One focus will be middle school children but not without a commitment to better educate high school students about available and immediate careers that await them here.
Diversity and inclusion also demand attention. We are a better, stronger, and more resilient community when we hold hands together regardless of race, gender, and creed. We must find ways to celebrate our heritages together, to find commonalities that join us rather than differences that separate us.
Do you want to have a hand in putting the puzzle together? We need you. We need people to take a look at this grand plan with new, creative eyes. We need you to stand up and defend the positive aspects of the community and commit to lending a hand in those areas that aim to become something better. We need YOU to know you are needed.
I love puzzles. I believe they are most fun when there are a bunch of good minds working on them. Join us!