News & Media

Kelly Ryan Blog: Residents Take Control of Building’s Future

Wed. Oct 16, 2013

Authentic leadership will risk failure 
by making the space for others to act.
                                              ~Parker Palmer

For ten years, Incourage has made resident engagement our top priority. In newspaper columns, social media and even this blog, I’ve trumpeted the importance of creating a “participatory culture” in the Wisconsin Rapids area. I imagine changing the culture to one where all residents work together in service of their own goals and free from corporate or other outside influences to create the kind of hometown they desire.

On October 8, I saw this decade of effort realized as residents of all ages gathered at the Centralia Center for the first of four meetings to determine the future of the Tribune Building. For two hours, participants shared fantastic ideas about how to turn a plot of beautiful, riverfront real estate into a space the whole community can enjoy.

Google-hangout-table  Kyles-table

With the help of students from the University of Wisconsin Madison, Eau Claire and La Crosse (who joined us via a Google Hangout), a future for the building began to take shape. Some of my favorite ideas included a “makers’ space” a public place people can come together to create and an indoor farmers’ market. Many of the participants felt it was important to use the building in a way that took advantage of its access to the Wisconsin River. Ideas included a brew house and a rooftop restaurant, among others. Despite what some residents thought, Incourage is not moving into the Tribune Building. We also have no preconceived ideas about what the building will be.

As they left, many participants thanked us for the opportunity to be involved with the project. But really, we can’t thank them enough for their ideas and intent on shaping a new future for their community.

The Tribune Building could be a public meeting space. Or a lively restaurant with great views of the river. Or free source for high-speed internet access. But while I don’t know what it will ultimately be, I do know what it will be without you: nothing.

Over the next several weeks, we will build upon the ideas of our first meeting. We need to hear what you want our community to be. What are we lacking? What could we be doing better? This isn’t just an empty building; it’s a first step toward creating a better community for ourselves. Join us on November 12, December 10 and January 14 at the Centralia Center from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to share your ideas.

Learn more >> TribuneBuilding.org

Thanks for reading.


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  • About Incourage

    Established in rural Wisconsin in 1994 to serve the changing needs of the south Wood County area, Incourage has become a nationally-recognized leader in place-based philanthropy and community development. Guided by values of equity, opportunity, and shared stewardship, Incourage envisions a community that works well for all people. One physical manifestation of this vision is the redevelopment of the Tribune building, which demonstrates Incourage’s user-centered approach to growing a strong and inclusive local economy.