In January I released the Micropolitan Manifesto, a call to connect with the artists, changemakers, and entrepreneurs who are passionately reimagining, restoring and revitalizing micropolitans across this country and Canada.
The response was overwhelming.
One of the first to respond was Scott Dadson, City Manager of the coastal micropolitan Beaufort, South Carolina.
If you’re unfamiliar with Beaufort, it is nestled on the waterfront near Hilton Head. The city is blessed with a collection of preserved historic architecture similar to my micropolitan of Staunton, Virginia and has many existing amenities. What is notable, however, is Beaufort’s very ambitious 2050 plan to increase density and maximize urban land use, make the city more walkable/bikeable, and even has plans to build a waterfront walk…the latter being an incredible gift to residents’ quality of life and connection to nature… to say nothing of the ecological restoration restoring the waterfront will entail, too!
Dadson met with community leaders across Beaufort and asked, “How can we become a better micropolitan?”. Every department in the city responded with an essay. It was discussed and distilled and the result was:
Beaufort’s own “Micropolitan Manifesto”!
Isn’t that AWESOME? Instead of sitting back passively, Beaufort got out there and discussed proposed and existing community efforts. Then they collaborated and created a unique manifesto that distilled their vision down to its core. As the tagline indicates, it bridges its historic identity with a strong vision for the future: “300 Years of Experience Leading to an Improved Fourth Century”.
Moreover, they shared it with us to read!
I think that deserves applause.
Congrats, @Beaufort_SC for collaborating on a shared vision for your micropolitan! Loved reading it. @UrbanEscapee http://bit.ly/A8kUKV
Read Beaufort, South Carolina’s “Micropolitan Manifesto” here (.pdf). (Read it in your browser or right-click, save-as to your desktop.)
How Your Community Can Write a Micropolitan Manifesto
Any community group or government can benefit from writing a Micropolitan Manifesto. It reflects the input and voices of common people and community stakeholders. The process will help solidify your community goals and values. It is a living document. Your manifesto is the connection between actions today and life tomorrow.
Beaufort’s Micropolitan Manifesto demonstrates some key concepts I recommend:
Keep it Short. A manifesto should be brief and to the point; no more than 20 pages.
Make it Beautiful. Your pages should be inspiring. Use real images from your community. No stock photography, please!
Address the “Big Stuff”. A manifesto sets forth community vision, values, and actionable goals. Assign at least one page each to these specific “big picture” issues that are critical to micropolitan success in the next 20 years:
- How are we supporting our entrepreneurs and indie businesses?
- How are we increasing walking and biking infrastructure and/or minimizing sprawl?
- What environmental assets are we restoring?
- What “quality of life” projects have we committed to and are pursuing?
- What “community strengthening” projects are we supporting?
- Why are we doing what we’re doing?
- How has our past prepared us for this future?
Distilling your answers into a few brief sentences of consensus with a “for the long haul” timeline yields the immense value of this exercise.
KEY CONCEPT: The projects and missions outlined in your manifesto will be pursued as a community with a 20-year+ timeline. This means everything in it will be pursued no matter which politician is voted in or out at the local, state, or national level. A micropolitan manifesto is people driven, not politically driven! It is an exercise in taking control of our communities in a bottom-up way, with a commitment to a longer time horizon than most two or four-year political cycles.
Make it Actionable. Who is involved for the long haul? What are the benchmarks of success?
Ready to get started? Collect some friends, colleagues, and peers and start the conversation. Do not wait for “someone else” to define your community’s future. Need help? Contact me. I’m on an adventure to remake our micropolitans!