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To be or not to be ‘World Class’…that is the question!!!!
In my early days of publishing, and I mean early, the question of ‘World Class’ arose and that experience provided me with a lifelong learning lesson. The synonym then for the word ‘world’ was ‘international’ and the tag line to the publication I was associated with was “The International Fun Magazine.”
The lifelong lesson learned was that the ‘world’ is a big place and reaching an aspiration of being ‘World Class’ is challenging; so challenging, in fact, that it requires leadership taking off their blinders in order to see what others around the ‘world’ are doing. Broadening the vision, aspiring to be ‘World Class’ requires looking beyond our borders to identify what defines the term in the first place.
A few years back former City Council member Constance Scott raised an aspirational idea to take our city beyond its borders. Her suggestion for Boca Raton was to become active in the Sister City International initiative. Ms. Scott recognized the benefit of reaching globally while acting locally but for reasons unknown to me, her initiative fell on deaf ears within the city’s leadership; a missed opportunity to broaden the city’s vision and encourage development beyond our borders and, a vision not necessarily requiring greater building density.
With one of the country’s largest diplomatic posts just a mere 40 miles down the road, reaching across the globe is literally at our fingertips. However for such an aspiration to be achieved, an inspiration is essential. Such inspiration has been and still is missing in the dialogue of Boca Raton’s leaders….the aspiration of ‘world class’ is a slogan needing inspiration; an aspiration needing a visionary willing to champion a different path, a path of economic and cultural development working in tandem to earn the status of ‘world class’.
Recently, Councilwoman Andrea Levine O’Rourke traveled both nationally and internationally. Upon her return, she spoke enthusiastically about the notion of ‘place making’. Boca Raton citizens are also actively taking part in a place making effort with the 2020 Vision and in the November, 2016 referendum where residents spoke loudly on the subject of ‘world class’ place making for our beach and parks.
Through Councilwoman O’Rourke’s commentary, Boca Raton may now be recognizing that it has affordability challenges; affordability challenges facing our citizens generally, including those in our creative communities. In order to attract and inspire young residents and students to remain in Boca Raton, leadership must address this affordability issue as a key priority.
This June city leaders from around the world will convene to explore and address global challenges facing creative communities. For Boca Raton to aspire to ‘World Class’ status, leadership and staff should participate in the first-ever Leadership Exchange Program, an initiative of the World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF).
This event will be hosted in Toronto and led by the non-profit creative place making organization, Artscape, The Exchange will bring together thought leaders from around the country and the globe. Participants will explore urban affordability for the creative sector and establish global best practices for retaining and growing affordable creative spaces. Participation in the Leadership Exchange Program will enable our leaders to aspire to meet this challenge; to aspire to what is working in other cities; and to inspire the development of creative solutions, strategies and resources.
Reaching out around the globe will provide inspiration to invest in projects ranging from cultural facilities and arts programming, to affordable workspace, tourism, engagement and sustainability; an unparalleled opportunity for our leadership to come together with global cities for the inspiration to achieve the aspiration to truly be ‘World Class’.
Al Zucaro, Publisher