Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Plan Your Work

Sometimes our reach exceeds our grasp — as it did in Norwich last week — and that’s not a bad thing. 

Stretching is healthy, be it as a warm-up for a workout at the gym, or for setting a course as a city. Who better to set the bar for us than ourselves? Sometimes we’ll fail, but as long as we learn from that failure, we can look forward to getting better and (hopefully) eventually triumph. 

So what should we make of what has happened — or hasn’t yet happened — toward resituating the city’s boat launch, currently at Howard T. Brown Memorial Park, to the opposite shore? 

The project is part of a larger (some might say ‘grander’) redevelopment and repurposing of a piece of Norwich’s past we call Shipping Street.

The effort was set back last week when the city failed to win a $2 million state grant, leading to the withdrawal of a proposal to borrow $400,000 for the project. 

First and foremost, I’d suggest we should learn as a city that experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And perhaps it’s best to regard last week’s disappointment as the tuition paid to learn how to create a more successful grant application the next time. But work harder because sometimes the difference between a “try” and a “triumph” is the amount of umph applied. 

We also need to learn to better define exactly what we want and why. 

That means having a plan —not (only) a hope — with milestones and measurement tools so you know how far and how fast you are heading toward your goal. And don’t forget to have a means of gathering feedback in case things don’t go as planned, so you can regroup, rethink and recalibrate. 

I fell across a line the other day, out in the wilds of the Internet, from people I suspect know nothing about living here in Norwich, but do know a heckuva lot about how to successfully achieve results: “If everyone swept in front of their house, the whole street would be clean.” 


I cannot encourage Rose City residents (does that make us, ‘buds’?) strongly enough to visit the City of Norwich website and pull up the 2013 Plan of Conservation and Development. It’s a great read created from a lot of hard work over many months by practically everyone who attended the meetings and workshops that served to collect ideas, dreams and desires of what Norwich could and should be.   

I don’t think you can read it and not believe we have the talent and ability to do and to be better. I recall a quote from an earlier development plan that noted, “Good cities don’t just happen; they are made.” Ouch. That is our challenge, and we should dream larger than we actually are. Life is not-quite-equal parts aspiration and perspiration.
-bill kenny

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