Creating a certain type of synergy

It was a few weeks back when I was busy with two or three projects and Scott Graham, the director of the Chillicothe Ross Community Foundation, appeared at my office door.

“Hey, Mike,” he said. “I’m not sure if you have the time, but I really need to introduce you to someone.”

I was busy. I didn’t have the time, but something told me to make time. Scott introduced me to Paul Ray, the head chaplain at Adena Health System. I’m glad I took the time.

We sat down and Paul shared with me the vision and effort behind a group of local pastors coming together to work to unite churches behind a message of community transformation — and before you think it’s a ploy to get you to go to church, hear me out.

Paul shared the vision of Alan Platt, an author and South African pastor who helped lead a similar effort in his town after coming to a realization that he had always had faith for a church, but he needed to have faith for a city. Platt authored 2017’s “City Changers,” which describes how the church can better engage with the community and be ready to offer help to the broken.

He also shared a copy of the book and said he was bringing Platt to speak to both the community and local pastors to help rally them around changing Chillicothe. As I read “City Changers,” it nearly mirrored “Building a Vibrant Community,” the book that our annual meeting speaker Quint Studer authored a year later. (I’ll bet copies of each can be purchased at Wheatberry Books.)

Last week, Platt visited Chillicothe and came away impressed at the teamwork on display here. He tweeted, “Such a privilege to be welcomed into a space where the evidence of God’s grace is tangible – I truly commend the leaders of Chillicothe who are embracing God‘s dream for this city.”

One day earlier, I was privileged to present about how the renovation and restoration of The Carlisle Building spurred the revitalization of Chillicothe’s downtown — which many across the state see as a shining example of how to reinvigorate your town. The presentation to the Reinvention Cities Network, a program of the Greater Ohio Policy Center, included a look at how Carlisle changed the mindset of a downtown and a city.

I share those stories because it’s a great example of how much energy is being spent on moving Chillicothe forward — and it’s getting noticed. With our effort to find the next steps in the future development of Chillicothe, beyond downtown, to the Church’s effort to find out how it fits into how revitalization takes place in the area.

I’ve often used these pages to talk about building synergy across the county — how if we all pull in the same direction, even if we are pulling different ropes, the whole cart moves forward. Honestly, we can’t achieve full transformation without the Church. They often see the needs before we realize them. They often partner with agencies to help address problems before business sees them. In that sense, they’re a crucial part of the next steps of community development.

And they are trying to help.

We need a revitalization that is felt in all areas of the city, then spreads through the county. It will likely look different in Kingston than in Clarksburg, and the same goes for Richmond Dale and Bainbridge, but it should be an effort that sees everyone with more opportunity to get better.

That certain type of synergy is building in Chillicothe and Ross County and it’s something we all should be excited about. The question is: How can you, or your business, fit into the picture?