Who is the "Face of CA" to you? Is it visionary James Rouse, or current President Phil Nelson? Is it the CA Board, your own Village Board, or Village Manager? Is it the staff you see at your local CA facilities? Is it the folks who make The Festival of the Arts happen, or the childcare staff at school? The People Tree is a powerful icon, but it is merely a symbol. Who, in your mind, is the living, breathing Face of CA?
The Columbia Association is going through a process of rebranding itself. Choosing from a collection of twelve well-known archetypes, CA sees itself as Caregiver, Jester, Sage, EveryPerson. What do you think? I am neither an expert in archetypes or rebranding, so I invite you to stay engaged with the process and learn more for yourself. I raise this issue now because the "Ignite" event last week made me realize that I am experiencing a loss of faith, or "Face", if you will, as regards the Columbia Association.
Don't misunderstand me. I believe in Columbia and what it stands for. I believe in the Villages, where you will find community engagement and vibrancy happening all the time. But I'm not sure I believe in "CA."
Panel member Candace Dodson Reed offered the following, "If all people had to go on was what they read in the newspaper and saw online, they would think that Columbia was a dysfunctional place where no one got along and people constantly argued about things."
There you have it: that's my "Face of CA."
People like me, who didn't come here at the beginning, don't necessarily know how to become a part of it all, or even if it is worth it. The steady voice of CA available in the news is resistance, micromanagement, argument, suspicion. I love Columbia, but I do not want to be a part of That Club.
Tom Coale recently made this comment on his blog, HocoRising. "To the extent CA has problems, it is my personal opinion that those problems can be sourced back to the Board. If we were getting paid, I might see the upside of cutting compensation."
His comment jumped off the screen for me. How many of us see this as the "Face of CA?" How many, then, are missing CA's relevance to living, working, and thriving in Columbia?
If CA wants to communicate more clearly what it is about, then it will need to confront what holds it back from being the best it can be. Encouraging new ideas and new faces is a good place to start.
I wonder if the rebranding people are listening.