Farmville's Main Street Program Needs Us All

Published 3:02 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Farmville's first steps into the Virginia Main Street program will benefit from the compass-effect words of the state organization's Jeff Sadler.

It takes a village.

Or, in this case, a town.

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The shoulders of many people.

The vision of many eyes.

A successful Main Street program is a marathon, not a sprint, and sustaining the momentum and enthusiasm requires a community's lungpower for the long haul.

A successful Main Street program is not a spectator sport but it is a team sport.

“Not every one of our 25 Main Street communities is a high-performing organization or high-performing town,” Sadler noted during comments this fall to the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce. “The ones that take a proactive approach to figuring out what they want and work towards it and get a lot of buy-in from lots of different folks are very successful. And other ones are always waiting for someone to do it for them. And that's the big key-that it takes a lot of people.”

Strength through numbers.

Many ripples gathered to make waves.

Many waves creating a tide.

That tide lifting the economy and the quality of life of those depending upon its jobs.

Which is quite literally all of us.

“You have to have an organization that isn't based on the power of one person's personality or three or four of the big business owners (that) all get together and say, 'This is what we need,'” Sadler advised.

“It's about taking the entire community and building a system that ten years from now will keep moving and keep moving and get as many people involved as possible,” he said. “That's pretty key right there-getting a lot folks involved. Because it's all volunteer effort, for the most part. I'm sure we've all been part of organizations where, whether it's your church or somewhere else, there's always one person who says, 'Well, I'll do it.'”

That eager dedication has tremendous short-term gains but can have devastating long-term effects on that volunteer and the organization.

“Eventually that person gets burned out, or they have kids, or they have grandkids, or they get sick or they move away or any number of things,” Sadler said, “and if you don't have a lot of involvement from all sorts of-we call them stakeholders-but lots of different people, you can't keep it moving.”

Farmville's Main Street program is just beginning to move forward.

It must keep moving.

As Sadler emphasized, the Main Street model is a comprehensive and incremental approach to revitalization, not about undertaking one big project and then letting go, but of doing lots of smaller projects.

Smaller, in this case, means achievable. Everest cannot be climbed in a day.

Smaller steps that lead, over time, to a continuous accumulation of great, and shared, achievement for the entire community.

A mountaintop experience for Farmville.