Envisioning the Future

By Christianne Radziewicz, Marketing Manager, VIP Structures

It all began with a single theme, “We the People” – a day to Educate, Inspire and Empower us all to write our future as it is up to us to help shape it.

What better way to start the day than on top of the city with two of our great founding fathers, John Adams and Ben Franklin, with their wonder and amazement of how far “We the People” have come. Their thought-filled questions of how “We the People” live and where we live; how “We the People” receive healthcare; how “We the People” are governed; how “We the People” travel through or around the community in “little metal boxes;” and how technology will shape the future; although Ben was a little skeptical that the 21st-century has any great inventors like himself, it set the stage for an incredible day!

The day’s topics began with housing. Norm Poltenson facilitated questions to a group of panelists who are all well-versed on Housing and have a good grasp of where housing is headed. Troy Evans enlightened us on how people want a more connected and collaborative living environment where they can socialize, share ideas and step right out their door and walk, or even ride their bike, to work. Merike Treier painted a remarkable picture of how far downtown has come, how it is returning to its roots as a great urban community to live in, that we have not reached saturation and that growth in our urban centers will continue to shape our future. Chris Trevisani brought to the forefront how mixed-use socioeconomic and diverse communities will allow “We the People” to prosper and will open the door to a shared sense of pride of place. Last, but certainly not least, our newly anointed Mayor Ben Walsh (thanks to Norm), gave great insight as to the struggles developers face to fund projects that meet the needs of all socioeconomic classes when it comes to housing and the work that many organizations are doing in and around the City to bring forth change for the future.

As we mingled and entered into our next topic on Healthcare, Kathy Ruscitto gave us great insight that healthcare and its benefits begin with us and educating our communities. She brought to light how organizations like St. Joe’s can take an active role in working with the communities to help foster change that is positive for not only the business but the local community as well. Healthcare is an evolving target that is going to take our voices and our leadership to help shape it.

The “little metal boxes” and how the 81 corridor and the intermodal will impact “We the People” today and well into our future was the next great topic of the day. Dave Mankiewicz introduced us to the many scenarios that have been presented and the pros and cons associated with each. Is a new elevated highway system the right approach? Is the community grid more beneficial to our urban fabric? What about a tunnel traveling under our city? Or should there be a combination of an elevated highway system and the community grid? There is still a great deal to be learned but it is a decision that will have a lasting impact and it is up to us, “We the People,” to learn more and have a voice to ensure the future is what we envision. The Inland Port will have a great impact on our economic fabric, as Dave pointed out, and is equally important for “We the People” to step up, to learn more and get involved.

The hottest and most energized topic of the day was Consensus. Kevin Schwab showered us with facts and cost-saving measures that governmental consolidation will bring to the masses. Khalid Bey ignited the conversation with his passion about consolidation and the need to hear all the voices of our community to ensure we are getting it done right without limiting services or increasing the cost to our taxpayers. The discourse that occurred showed how much work still needs to be done to bridge the divide that exists around this issue; and that “We the People” can and should get involved to help bridge that divide, to allow all voices to be heard so the collective whole can write our future together.

Technology all began with a conversation on Destiny USA by Rob Schoeneck, the General Manager of Destiny. It was incredible to learn about the transformation and vision one man had to bring back to life a polluted site, the continual evolution this vision has taken to stay relevant, and the ongoing transformation that started several decades earlier. It goes to show that the power of a vision and the execution of that vision can truly make a difference. “We the People” can and should strive to make a difference no matter how big or small the idea might be. Nasir Ali, Entrepreneur at Upstate Venture Connect concluded our day with letting us know we have tremendous talent all around us, that many great innovators got their start right here in Syracuse, and that many more will come thanks to our tremendous college and university setting which will no doubt help shape our future.

Our design team would like to thank everyone for taking part in our day, for their willingness to speak, to educate, inspire and empower us all to use our voices. We’d like to give special thanks to our sponsor Dave Bottar, for believing in the LGS process.