Citizen Wausau

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Young Professionals Need What?

by on March 29th, 2012

I used to think of myself as a young professional, sadly now I am 41, and that makes me young at heart, which is the kindest way to say, “You are old and irrelevant.”  But, I digress in the first sentence, never a good start, but totally how we do things at my advanced age.

I read a newspaper story in the Wausau Daily Herald about the activities of Marathon County, in an effort to bring in and support young professionals in our County.  I suppose I support the work of this committee.  They seem like good people, trying to come up with good ideas to create a good community.  But, jump drives?  Leadership conferences?  That is what young people want?

I have been to a TON of leadership conferences in the last two years, and they all seem like the same thing.  Consultant A is introduced, gives a 20 minute talk, asks for questions, people are too shy to ask questions.  Host gets up and speaks for a few, event breaks into discussion group, group inevitably just turns into a social time.  Discussion breaks up, we head to the bar or lunch table for socialization.  Either return after lunch, or go home after socializing.  Not a lot of that stuff was focused on my work as a writer or for my day job.  So, I am not sure what I just did for a couple of hours, and I do not feel like a better leader, so I am going to stop going to those things.

I am sure that there are many places that this is important.  I am sure that a lot of it depends on the sort of Consultant A that you get.  I have had the chance to speak at a ton of events in the last 3 years, and maybe that makes me an unfair critic, but man, can we just somehow admit that a good part of this stuff is the networking.  It is massively valid and important.  But, I think there is a difference between wrenching on a problem and talking about wrenching on a problem.

This grant seeks about 30 grand to create a fall leadership event in which people are invited to come and talk about the problems of the community in regards to young people.

I live in Weston.  Between the guy who owns Sprocketz and Hooshang, we sort of have our bike thing down and locked.  I do think the Central Wisconsin region needs a sort of unified bike idea.  Is the 13 grand in grant funding for a proposal that does not create any bike paths, but instead creates 200 signs, and 30,000 maps a good use of the funds?  I say no.

The United Way is seeking 19 grand to upgrade its outreach material for its Emerging Leaders program.  Did you know they had an emerging leaders program?  Look, I am a rather civically engaged young (ha, see paragraph 1) man, and aside from a solicitation letters from the United Way, I have no idea what they do, and I have no idea what I can do to help them to do what I do not know what they do even if I was able to know what they do.  So, I think that the United Way, while obviously a great organization, might need more messaging help than Facebook offers.  I actually have no idea what they do, how I can help, or anything save for sending them a check when they ask.

And for the record — Twitter and Facebook — totally free.

The Wausau/Central Wisconsin Visitors Bureau is asking for 35 grand in a grant to update all of its marketing materials.  This sort of makes sense, since we have doubled down on the logo, so clearly we need all of our stuff to be uniform.  So, sure this makes sense to me, given that the logo is something we committed to.

And finally, jump drives.  I do not even have anything to say about this, aside from, “I love jump drives.”  Nothing is cooler than when I get one at a conference, and immediately take it home and erase everything on it, and plan to use it later.  You can look at the bottom of my bag to see how this is working out.  A jump drive graveyard if you will.

My man Jim Rosenberg has told me for years that if you are not bringing something positive to the table, then you are just a crank.  So, how about I offer up some ideas.  Let’s remember that I have no idea the scope or the focus of this money.  But, if we are giving out money, how about the money go to the following.

1.  The Unseen Weston Public Transit Plan.  Rumor is that the WATS guy brought a plan to Fred Schuster and Mark Maloney that would have cost only 30 grand for Weston to keep public transit.  But, the powers that be (Hi, Fred Schuster, you are the powers that be, for the record this falls on you), did not allow this plan to see the light of day.  One of the fingers on the hand is transportation.  I have always known that if you have good public transit, people will use it. Give young professionals a chance to use this, and they will.  You can go to any major or growing city in this country and see young people riding public transit to work.

2.  Support Wausau Area Events/Main Street.  Let’s be clear, Dawn Follendorf and Kari Rassmusen are miracle workers.  They each have a massive responsibility.  WAE puts on events every week for most of the year.  And they have a staff of, wait for it, one.  Main Street started out as a state program, and now appears to be standing on its own legs, with the intent of supporting downtown, the so-called River District (no idea what that is about).

But let’s be clear.  Even if Kari only had to produce the Blues Festival, it is unrealistic for the City of Wausau to expect one human being to put that together.  So, clearly what Kari is supremely qualified at doing is marshalling resources and working with community members to get people to work towards a common goal.  Can you imagine what WAE could do with one more programming staff member?

This fits within the report that the county is coming from, the idea of events and culture.  It would be easy enough to justify this organization support.

3.  Expand The Neighbors Place.  I think that the work done by this organization can be seen as a hub of good works.  The news is full of reports of loss of jobs, trouble to employers, etc.  Why not expand the reach of a place like the Neighbors Place.  Mr. Rau and his staff have proven themselves as able to make a dollar out of a nickel.  If we are to expand the funding of this program, clearly the exponential growth would be amazing.  And the overall benefit to the county would be exponential as well.

Look, I do not mean to nitpick, but my opinion is that these grants are not the best use of these funds.  I believe that the report indicates a wide range of needs, and that these are not the best ways to address those needs.

I am appreciative of the efforts of those taking on these projects, but like I said, I think that these dollars could end up someplace else with greater impact.

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