Lessons during changing times

Opinion: Columns

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Laurie Kokenes

Hosting events that drive traffic to Forest Park, showcase the business community and keep Forest Park's name at the forefront are an important part of the work of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce. Events play an essential role in marketing our village and bringing our community together.

As fall approaches, we'd typically be getting teams lined up for the Casket Races, prepping for the Wine Walk and making plans for the Holiday Walk. Instead we are challenged to think outside the box to come up with creative strategies to accomplish those goals while adhering to safety guidelines.

Are we disappointed that those events are off the table this year? Absolutely. We've grown quite fond of our events … and we love seeing the joy and fun experienced by participants and attendees. But the wind has changed, and, like our local businesses, it is necessary for the chamber to change course. In the process, we are learning some valuable lessons.

Lesson 1: Working with others is key. The Madison Street Art Stroll was put together fairly quickly because the Forest Park Arts Alliance and the chamber decided to team up. Everyone played a part, we operated like a well-oiled machine, and the event brought new people to town and exposure to artists and their work – a win-win for everyone.

Lesson 2: Discomfort is a catalyst for growth. Routines make us feel at ease and in control. Breaking out of routines can be a powerful way to unlock great new ideas. The challenge is to get past the initial feeling of wanting to get back to normal. Challenge accepted. Our brains are working overtime to come up with options that will be creative enough to serve as temporary replacements for our key events. And who knows. With all the lessons learned through this period of discomfort, we may end up with some new and creative events, or ideas that will add to the success of our current ones.

Lesson 3: I think this lesson will address uncertainty, but let me get back to you on that in January. There's a lot do and more lessons to be learned.

Here's what I know at this point: Businesses need our support just as much as they did in March. How can you continue to support them? Shop in person or online. Buy gift cards. Like, comment on, and share their social media posts. Write a good review. Continue to dine in and order takeout. Take those online fitness classes. Look to local businesses for all your services. Shopping locally strengthens our community.

Speaking of maintaining a strong community, have you completed the 2020 Census? There's still time. Decisions that affect Forest Park will be made over the next 10 years based on this data.  

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