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Friday, 4 March, 2011 3:02 AM

Transform Pontiac Now: Local group looks to revitalize the downtown area

by Robert Powell
rpowell@powellassociates.com

TEXT-ONLY VERSION

|

PONTIAC, Mich. -- About 41 people, dedicated to renewing and reinvigorating their town showed up at Saint Stephens Baptist Church Sunday evening, February 27. The Transform Pontiac Now (TPN) meeting had many characteristics of an old-time tent revival, with many of Pastor John Smith's comments drawing a chorus of "Amen" from the assembled volunteers. But this was somehow appropriate, because everyone was there for creating miracles from hard work, to fight for a literal revival of downtrodden Pontiac, Michigan, and to raise their beloved city from its near death experience.

Pastor Smith led the meeting with fervor, a rhetorical ourish and a sense of self-deprecating wit that occasionally broke free and jousted with his friends in the audience. Unsurprisingly he opened the Pontiac revival meeting with a prayer. One of his €rst comments was something like, "If you have shown up you've been set up. You are going to be involved in something great!"

This is a man who can speak with an infectious enthusiasm that he clearly needs for this task; the problems of Pontiac are numerous and critical. For example, there is a state-appointed emergency financial manager in place who could soon receive powers allowing him to do pretty much anything, up to and including the dissolution of the city.

This doesn't seem legal, or even Constitutional since the people of Pontiac elected their officials, but we live in strange times where money seems to be king and many in positions of power seem in thrall to it's bidding rather than being concerned with the humanity that developed the concept of currency in the €rst place. But that is an aside, a discussion for another day. Time is truly of the essence and the people of Pontiac must stand up, be counted, and be ready to pitch in and work if they want to save this great but tattered city.

TPN is a "big vision" organization, but it doesn't intend to become bogged down with high concepts that make everyone feel good but fail to achieve real action and needed changes. Pastor Smith plans to take the vision of TPN to the streets of Pontiac, assess the needs as the citizens see them, gather their ideas, use their energy and create a transforming movement. Logistically this movement is developing from interactive Strategic Focus Groups that encompass most of the needs and support structures of social organisms such as humans, needs typically met within our local government structures, but which have been a struggle for Pontiac to meet during recent history. These focus groups include Administrative, Education, Youth/Young Life, Government, Religious/Social, Transportation, Land Use, Crime and Safety, Seniors/Mature Life, Employment, Income/Economics, and Health/Nutrition.

All these groups connect in some way, some directly, some more indirectly, and the focus of each is to be totally on solutions for Pontiac's problems. Everyone who attended the February 27 meeting signed up for at least two groups and indicated which of those was of primary and which was of secondary interest to them. These teams will brainstorm their tasks and approaches to solutions this Sunday, March 6, at 5:00 to 6:30PM at 69 S. Astor in Pontiac, MI, St. Stephens Baptist Church.

March 15 is Pontiac's 150th birthday, and March 19 is Pastor Smith's goal for starting outreach in Pontiac neighborhoods, beginning with District 7. If you want to participate, celebrate Pontiac's century and a half of existence, and help out your community, possibly helping to save it, please show up and lend a hand.

For more information about Transform Pontiac Now, including a statement of vision, purpose and mission, can be found (plus you can buy t-shirts!) on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_185373244821344&ap=1

 

 

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