Community Discusses Future Development
By Janine Calsbeek – Staff Writer (Sioux County Capital Democrat)
ORANGE CITY – What do we need? Who are we missing? Where are the walls?
What can churches do to better serve the citizens of the community? That’s what Bonnie De Jong, Teresa Gunderson and Jon Nelson – people from First and Trinity Reformed churches – got together to discuss. Their conversation quickly turned to the roles of business and non-profits as well.
Mike Callagy, a retired civil engineer who worked on community development projects in California, joined their discussion.
And, they decided to invite townspeople and community leaders for open forums – community development summits.
The first was held on Wednesday, Jan. 7, with Dave Nonnemacher and Michael Andres of Northwestern College presenting the theology of community development. The following week, a group of 40 did some brainstorming and list making. “What does our community need?”
The final two sessions will be critical, said Callagy…thinking of ways to implement the ideas.
Nelson, associate pastor at Trinity, is interested in helping all people of the community succeed, including the people in the “margins.” Do systems and organizations here provide opportunities for everyone to excel? He asked.
You’ve heard the saying; “Give a man a fish. He’ll eat for a day,” said Nelson. “Teach a man to fish. He will eat for a lifetime.”
“But, the big question is, who owns the pond? That is a statement by John Perkins about community development, and it needs to be asked,” said Nelson. “Are those who own ‘the pond’ willing to help others so they can succeed as well? If we profess our faith in Jesus Christ, we are called to be reconcilers, restorers and healers actively participating in God’s redemptive work.”
Nelson wonders if there is a way that non-profits and churches could work together more extensively.
When he brainstorms, thinking of local businesses that are for sale, he wonders if someone could purchase a business and continue to run it as a for-profit endeavor, but offer a few jobs for women at The Bridge?
He thinks the notion of businesses and non-profits working together is an idea with potential, but maybe there are other creative ideas out there. He also believes that community leaders and organizations would benefit from this type of collaboration.
There are many innovators in the community who could bring about needed change that would bless many, added Nelson. “Are they being asked for their input?”
“Quality of place”
Mike and Pat Callagy spent 30-plus years in south-central California, doing land development, civil engineering, and project development. Their city, Bakersfield, is 110 miles north of Los Angeles, an agricultural and oil-rich region.
When they moved here, they left kids in California, but joined others in Orange City; their daughter is Laurie Furlong, a professor at Northwestern.
Nelson approached Mike Callagy recently. “You’re not from here,” he said. “What does this community need?”
Another retirement community – that’s one of Callagy’s ideas. Pat’s mother is on the five to seven-year waiting list for Landsmeer, a long wait.
And how about housing for the many who work here, but don’t live here?
Another of Callagy’s hopes is that Orange City will put in place necessary zoning to prevent leapfrog development, to protect the downtown flavor of the town.
Yes, a mall on Hwy. 10 might be good for the area, he said, as long as it doesn’t starve downtown.
Bakersfield is much larger than Orange City, but it’s an agricultural town, so it resembles this place. A redevelopment project was suggested for the Bakersfield downtown region…a down town mall to encompass the already-thriving businesses there. But those businessmen told the developer to “go away.” They were doing just fine.
A few years later, the developer built an enormous mall just outside of town, triple the size of the mall in Sioux City, said Callagy. And downtown suffered.
It took 35 years and huge amounts of work and resources to restore the Bakersfield downtown region.
It’s easier to protect first, Callagy said.
Mike Hofman, Chamber of Commerce director in Orange City, believes that good ideas will be gleaned from the Wednesday morning meetings. It’s great that people want to be involved in the process, he said.
His term is “quality of place.” It’s bigger than “quality of life” – more encompassing – and includes “the whole place as a benefit for everyone,” he said.
“Why is this a good place to be? What can we do for others?” Hoffman asked.
“We may be biting off more than we can chew, in these community summit meetings,” said Nelson, “because community development covers so many areas. But, I am very interested in seeing what may happen. Great innovations, businesses, and ministries are all created through someone’s inspired idea.”
Callagy hopes that the last two meetings are productive, and that some of the linchpins of the communithy will back a few projects. Crucial, also, is involvement of the Chamger, city and county, and the city of Alton.
Key components will be identified, then prioritized. “If one or two ideas are implemented in 2009, and one or two started,” Callagy said, that would be a framework. It would be a sign of progress, and momentum would build. There’s potential for a lot of good to result, said.
“Implementation is critical,” Callagy said. “This is where community development usually falters.”
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