Our Opinion: Transformation propelled by ‘wonder and awe’

News Tribune editorial

We commend the chairman of our area Chamber of Commerce for attempting to describe what she characterized as the “indescribable excitement” of the Transformation initiative.

In a Chamber Today column published in Monday’s News Tribune, Janet Wear-Enloe tackled “what hasn’t been written because it is a feeling that must be experienced.” And she confessed: “Perhaps there are not adequate words to convey what is happening.”

Discussions, debate and decisions by the Transformation action teams and steering committee have been well-documented in media reports.

The steering committee recently ranked 40 packages of opportunities totaling $61,716,500. Among the top-ranked packages are: building renovations and roadway improvements at the Missouri State Penitentiary redevelopment site; enhancement funding for a proposed conference center; and a Lincoln University nursing school at the existing St. Mary’s site after the health center is relocated.

Wear-Enloe points out correctly, however, that rational and intellectual assessment is only part of the equation. The other component includes what she identified as “the emotional commitment, ownership and pride.”

Community discussion now will focus on priorities, feasibility and financing. Will a tax be sought and supported? What group will be accountable for expenditures and oversight? Will members of the group be elected by the public or chamber members?

These issues likely will be approached on an intellectual, rather than emotional, basis.

That’s reasonable, but we must not completely overlook the component Wear-Enloe described as: “The wonder and awe of working so hard on a project that it takes over your thoughts and conversations. The pride of knowing your efforts are going to mean something really positive for our community’s growth.”

The Transformation initiative represents what may be most comprehensive community development effort. It represents transformation on a grand scale and at significant cost.

The community will decide to what degree it wants to be transformed. In making that decision, we ask them not to discount “wonder and awe” involved in the process.

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