I hate "potential." There, I said it. I unabashedly and irrevocably despise the word, the concept and its effect on the way we as a community define success. The ease with which it rolls off the tongue, the way its density builds stagnant air; this nine-letter word suppresses the oxygen to the flame of progress we so desperately want for our city.
Enough's enough, Jacksonville: I am hereby taking a stand against potential, and I hope you will join me.
I am incredibly proud to call myself a Jacksonville native and true advocate for my hometown that I love so much. Growing up here, I fell hard for Jacksonville's people, beauty and distinctive charm. As a returning professional, I uncovered my passion for building our next generation of leaders and working with the community to bring to life the impossible. Throughout my time managing the Jax Chamber's young professional organization and subsequent time working to launch the inaugural One Spark festival, I have found two underlying themes. First, that everyone in town is eager to talk about the potential of Jacksonville; but second, that fewer people are ready to talk about the action required to realize it.
Every conversation around progress plays an important role. However, I have learned it is those who focus on touting their plan and following through with execution that ultimately move the mark for our community. These folks don't have time to focus on that silly little word potential. They are too busy pushing past it, and quickly. The funny thing about uncovering their secret is that it becomes contagious. Once you experience the increments of change unfolding, you become addicted to the progress being made and have to realize more.
For me, that craving has led me to my focus on JAX2025 and a new role as community planner at JCCI. Ironically, it is this nearly 40-year-old institution that has facilitated a community visioning process and provided Jacksonville with a platform to achieve the fresh update and game-changing development our city needs. Not only does JCCI bring long-term institutional knowledge, but this community convener now brings a citizen-grown vision and roadmap to long-term success through JAX2025.
Together, we've already identified more than 60 strategies for improvement, 10 targets to track progress and one unified vision for Jacksonville's future. With your buy-in, our community's collective actions will transition us from just having imagined it to actually reaching it over the next 12 years. I've been asked by people in the community, "Is it true that JAX2025 is over? They created the vision, right, so that's it?" Nothing could be further from the truth.
Phase one, known as "Imagine It," was only the beginning. We are now in the more critically important second phase: "Build It." Now is the time when the rubber hits the road, and we all have the opportunity to join together and say that the future of this city, our home, matters.
I am incredibly excited and honored to work with each and every one of you to connect, showcase and build a Jacksonville where we are too busy with action to ever mutter that nine-letter word. Whether you are a long-standing community leader, hole-in-the-wall small-business owner or energetic 20-something (or older), let's forget being "partners in potential" and join JAX2025 as official Partners in Progress.