by ERIN THURSBY
What do you want your city to become? That’s the precisely the question asked by those behind Jax2025. Using a widely circulated survey that was even pushed by Mayor Brown, they canvassed Jacksonvillians about how we want our Bold City to be in 2025 A.D./A.C.E. The results are tabulated; ten areas of improvement, called Targets, are now established. By the Year 2025, we want Jacksonville to be known…
for a Vibrant Arts and Entertainment Scene.
for Being Clean and Green.
for Being Diverse and Inclusive.
for Distinctive Neighborhoods & Urban Heart.
as a Place Where People Matter.
for Exemplary Governance.
for a Smooth Transportation System.
for a Healthy Population.
for Excellence in Education.
To improve our city, we not only have to know what we want, we have to have a system for determining progress. Jacksonville Community Council, Inc., has defined each of these Targets and set standards for measuring improvement.
For those of you wondering, this isn’t a taxpayer-funded initiative. Each Target is linked to associated community organizations and clubs. Although you might notice COJ involvement with some of these goals, it’s because they are sometimes things the city is already working to improve, such as transportation, exemplary governance, population health, etc.
Naturally, some clubs had an investment in a particular Target or multiple Targets before Jax2025 gave its clarion call. “We’re always trying to do community outreach,” says Jessie Spradley, the Chief of Staff for the Jacksonville Jaycees. “Outside of Jax2025, we had started doing a clean up, a partnership between between us, St. Johns Riverkeeper, the Rising Tides and Keep Jacksonville Beautiful.” In discussions with JCCI, they found that their Jaycees Green Team fit well with the Clean and Green Target.
Now, says Spradley, the question is: “How else can we get involved?” Founded in 1922, Jacksonville’s oldest business leadership organization for young professionals, the Jacksonville Jaycees organization has learned that improving our city is vital to commerce, and there is always more to be done. Spradley says that all of the Jax2025 Targets play a part. “We want young professionals to come here and stay here. With these ten Targets, if we actually achieve these, it will make our job of keeping people here a lot easier.”
What can I do to make my city better? Go to www.jax2025.org, and check out their calendar of meetings. The event description will tell you what the Target is, and you can attend to connect with others interested in the same Target. Or, you can start from the Targets themselves. Your focus might be on making Jacksonville a greener city. In that case, click on the Clean and Green Target. From there you’ll see a hot-linked list of organizations forwarding the goals of the particular Target. You can learn more about the groups interested in your chosen initiatives through the links, as well as finding opportunities to connect with them. You can also volunteer with Jax2025’s partner, Hands on Jacksonville. (www.handsonjacksonville.org)
While you could join the organizations focused on making these big improvements, you can also do many things on your own that are less about an investment of time and more about supporting the things you already love about your city. Choose a Target that appeals to you, and then look for the “I Will…” on the page.
For instance, if you like the idea of a vibrant arts and entertainment scene, Jax2025 suggests that you attend an art event, symphony performance or sporting event. You might get season tickets, buy from a local artist or join a museum. Those who love the arts might already be doing some of these things, but if you can push yourself to do a little more, your community can be more. Attend an event outside of your comfort zone, seek out art and introduce friends to events and venues they haven’t been to. Each Target has simple things you can do to be more involved in your city, to help shape the best of what we have to offer.
Just because you’re looking into one particular Target doesn’t mean you aren’t helping with another. Many of these Targets are interconnected in surprising ways. The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens obviously would be under the Vibrant Arts Target, but they’re also supporting many of the other ones.
Holly Keris, Chief Curator of the Cummer, says, “These community conversations and the objectives identified by the Jax2025 taskforce have played, and continue to play, an active role in strategic conversations at the Museum. From the vision for Jacksonville’s arts and culture scene, to Jax2025’s objective to be a national leader in sustainability initiatives, and its focus on supporting distinctive neighborhoods and a diverse and inclusive community, the Cummer is excited to help make these goals a reality for our community.”
Despite the fact that we are only in the first year of action on Jax2025, the response has already been inspiring, says Keris. “I have been delighted to see so many people participate in these community forums. It has been rewarding to see the number of individuals step forward – representing their businesses, their neighborhoods, themselves – to be an integral part of creating this vision for our community.” For more on Jax2025, visit www.jax2025.org.