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Take Two: Authenticity is the crucial piece of Downtown’s millennial puzzle

Thursday, September 27, 2018 11:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
Founding Member, Deborah Handsenoray

Guest post by founding member: Deborah Hansen

Authentic: representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified; genuine; real.

What IS Jacksonville’s true nature? Do we have a vision that will move our city forward or are we forever looking behind us, dogged by a revolving door of focus groups trying to figure out exactly who we are?

I throw my gauntlet in with the vision. Maybe we don’t explain ourselves well to others in the sandbox, but let’s try. And then let’s all get on the moving sidewalk together and move forward.

There is no doubt that our rich history is to be valued and protected. Even the parts that we wish we could go back and rewrite a bit, but it’s ours and we will gladly claim it. Invest in your children and your community by taking a “Staycation.” Visit the museums, historical societies, and sites in the area that help explain our heritage.

And then let’s move on. Please.

J Magazine is offering a series of articles focusing on “Millennials,” as the title of this article captured from their latest installment leads the reader to believe. The article, however, focused on—you guessed it—the past. Nothing about downtown revitalization or authenticity. Or millennials.

Pew Research states that “Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22 to 37 in 2018) will be considered a Millennial…….” And according to the latest demographic information on Jacksonville, the largest group within our population is age 25, thus falling into the M-word designation.

Here is my question, the one that does return to the title of this article: If we value our diversity and the concept of inclusion, where are they at the table? The table of local city governance? Or at the tables at dozens of business organizations that insist on operating according to the outdated “let’s do lunch once a week and pass around business cards—again” model?

We speak about them as if they are children of no account who are then shunted off to the kids’ table at Thanksgiving dinner. How about dropping the unnecessary reference to their age completely and invite them to sit with us?

If we hope to move forward as a city with authenticity, we need to “represent our true nature and beliefs.” That includes all citizens, not simply the ones who have been in charge of the place cards for decades. The ones who can’t seem to decide on our vision, even after all those decades at the head of the table.

We need the input and inclusion of ALL citizens at the same table, not only certain age groups but all people of color, ethnicities, and any other criteria that has been used for far too long to divide us.

It is the only honest way to move Jacksonville forward instead of continually looking over our shoulders, clutching to a past that no longer exists nor serves the majority of our citizens.







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