Nonprofit Performance 360 Issue 12

and new folks staying. Also, our Academy Center of the Arts has been renovated. When the Academy Theatre was in its heyday, persons of color could not go in, or they had to go through the separate entrance with a separate ticket taker and sit way up in the top. December 2018 will be the first show where all of our community will be able to walk through the front doors of the newly renovated Academy. We are excited about our new residents in downtown lofts and the businesses that come behind them. We have global businesses with corporate headquarters here. They understand the investment of staying here and putting their main offices downtown. We have six colleges or universities located within our city, with another in a locality about 15 minutes away. With so much education, global companies, and various industries here with us, we have all the tools to make Lynchburg an even greater city in the future. Connecting the Dots Everything must interact and engage so that our citizens become beneficiaries of that great building and development. You have to sit down with key leaders, faith leaders, and college presidents. We have a great volunteer base of college students and rec departments. We all make it work to create that great city that people benefit from. It’s in the business model of our city government, nonprofits, and churches. This is a relay. We’re handing a really good baton around. We are also not competing against other cities. There is nothing that compares to Lynchburg. We are our own shining light. There are unique challenges here, and no other model would fit here. We have super steep hills here in the Hill City. It’s great exercise that promotes a healthy, fit lifestyle for individuals and families. It’s affordable to live here. Young families can buy a home here, and they’re not using all of their income on housing. We have opportunities, walking by the James River, or going kayaking, or keeping our faces sunned with great parks and trails. When people move here, they bring new ideas and insights from their experiences, new directors and folks who take key positions, spreading information and communication about how people can become involved, how they can help with projects downtown or in other parts of our city. When businesses locate here,

they say that they want their employees to have a great quality of life, which includes the education system, the parks and trails, entertainment, and green spaces. All of that matters and gives energy. When you keep it focused, this hand- off of the baton is about the economic environment. We must integrate our neighborhoods and our folks who are living under the poverty threshold into that economic opportunity, and shift folks’ language and thinking about their everyday spending habits and wanting to spend more or wanting buy a home. We must work together to create an education opportunity and get folks involved. We have to get people to cast the vision for themselves. Businesses need a work force. We have to make sure our citizens are trained with the credentials and skills that entry level jobs require these days. Businesses can pick up and go anywhere with a good environment. Other people have rivers and parks. What makes us unique is the work force system that we create: giving people the soft skills, the training and credentials in the industry sectors that are important to Lynchburg and are thriving here, matching them with jobs and careers that pay them well so they can be contributors of the tax base, of our residences and neighborhoods through home ownership, and just a part of that American dream.With all of this work, we are creating pathways for people. When you are in a pipe, it’s solid and hard to get out one end or the other. If you create pathways for people, they are able to get on or off.There is a way on, and they can take a detour. I talk about creating career and life pathways, different options. The way you and I enter that highway of life may not be the same, but if you shine the light on this as the direction, there are several ways to get there. It will be a great benefit to you as an individual, or to your family or children. Telling Our Story Cities and localities don’t tell their stories well about what their city looks like.We do marketing and branding campaigns about what it means to be a Lynchburger, and how you feel when you walk down Main Street and you can talk to your neighbor or someone else while you are running up the eight floors of Monument Terrace. It’s engaging being in a city of 80,000.

We are just big enough, but just small enough.We can invite our faith leaders, our business CEOs and presidents to Town & Gown meetings.They talk to us about their challenges, and we can lay our challenges and successes out there. Everyone in this city is willing to sit down at the table.There are leaders who make it about them, but it’s about us. It’s about the community and the impact we have on humanity. Monument Terrace is a recognition of all the previous wars and the persons who lost their lives. Everybody uses it often, but it also means a lot to our strong veteran community. They have met at the foot of Monument Terrace every Friday for one hour, for years to show support of the troops, and that home is still praying for you, still connecting, and still caring about you. That community at the base of Monument Terrace is not just Lynchburg residents. It is veterans from Korea and Vietnam, and folks who come home now. We are not located near an active-duty base, but we have a lot of veterans in the area who create that idea that we all care, collaborate, and work together. My time in the Navy taught me discipline and collaboration. That is where I started my public relations work. The individuals and organizations in our community have commitment. We respect that and the work they do. Be open to new experiences and to working with new people. Everyone has a voice, background, experience, or story that you can either glean something from, or they can contribute toward the work you do. You may be able to share your story or narrative with other people. When we do that and open ourselves for learning and connecting with others, we will see great things happen. Treney Tweedy, a native of Lynchburg, Virginia, serves as the first female African-American mayor of the city. In addition to serving on the City Council, she is a U.S. Navy Veteran and former Lynchburg City Schoolboard Member, who believes volunteerism and community service help support a vibrant city. The Empower Lynchburg website was built in response to local organizations and individuals who wanted to get involved with the Poverty to Progress initiative but weren’t sure where to start, serving as a central platform that hosts all the activities contributing to the goal of

reducing the city’s poverty rate.

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