Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Steward of Civic Engagement

Illustrating the relevance of a community’s destination marketing organization is an ongoing process. What Karl Albrecht International (KAI) initiated was just a beginning in the 2008 futures study for Destination Marketing Association International.New Role

Almost immediately, with Karl’s blessing, the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, where I worked at the time, continued to innovate the illustration. But although, I had written widely about the added role of DMO’s as stewards of place-based assets, I failed to connect it to the illustration.

But now I see that DCVB CEO Shelly Green has remedied that oversight as she and her staff continue to improve the organization.

Tourism’s stewardship role was first inspired to DCVB’s attention during a keynote address by Dr. Scott Russell Sanders at the first Civic Tourism Conference in Prescott, AZ. I took it one step further.

Because a DMO is the spearhead of tourism, no entity is more responsible or more suited or more relevant to steward these invaluable assets. Because DMO’s steward the assets that make a community unique, if you agree with Dr. Sanders’ assessment below, they also help steward a community’s civic engagement.

“One cannot feel delight or pride in a place, a sense of belonging to a place, or a concern for the well-being of a place, if “there is no there there.” So it’s not surprising that the erosion of our towns and cities has coincided with a retreat by Americans from civic life. The two trends reinforce one another. Our communities turn into jumbles
because not enough people are looking after them, and ever fewer people are willing to look after places that have lost their souls.

But it is easy to be inspired over and over by Sanders’ words when you live in and love a place like Durham, where there is a “there” here and the level of passion for the community is nearly double the levels shown for others in scientific surveys.

If you care about the community where you happen to live even if you’re not a reader or you live and work among people who aren’t readers…read, re-read and share this writer's speech. If I had to name just one, it would be easily the most compelling of my nearly 40 year career in community marketing.

And if this essay resonates, it is only one of several equally poignant writings in his book A Conservationist Manifesto. Its only 256 pages but then again, I’m preaching to the choir…as a friend said a few years ago, “people don’t read anymore” and in my experience, she’s all too correct…at least the people who should, don’t read anymore.

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