Envisioning the Future Day

by Aaron Frishman, LGS Class of 2015 design team member. 

On March 11th, LGS Class of 2015 members completed the first of its participant-planned days of the year. As I sit and reflect on the day, I am reminded of how incredible the LGS opportunity is for all of us, not just me. Each of us came to LGS for different reasons, but we all know the experience will, and maybe already has changed us for the better.

Envisioning the Future day, as it is titled, called on the planning team to think about how we would set the tone for the next 10 months, but more importantly how each individual in the class could build upon the impact their resumes suggest they are already making locally. Our themes for the day were simple – Inspire, Invest, and Involve. 

From the beginning of the planning experience to the completion of the class day, the planning team brought together thought leaders in community development, entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders and a professor to provide their insight. While the various presenters were scheduled as part of a specific “theme” of the day, they still each challenged us to consider how each of the three sectors intersect to create and cultivate a more vibrant community. The common denominator and thread in each of the stories we heard was the love of place. No one would or could invest in revitalization efforts, support local immigrant communities or educate the next generation of future leaders without the belief that Syracuse can be better than our history suggests we once were.

Using the themes for the day, the design team asked the class to look at land-use questions, revitalization and development projects in our local communities, and to consider how each of us can reframe the dialogues we participate in outside of class. We wanted people to both accept and challenge the conventional thinking about Syracuse – a kind of “yes, and..” approach.

Our challenge now is to build upon Envisioning the Future Day with each subsequent class day to gain a full appreciation of the challenges our community faces, the opportunities and resources yet untapped, and to help us all grow as community leaders in a way we could not have previously imagined for ourselves when we first received our acceptances to participate in LGS.

While the calendar tells us Spring is just ahead, even with snow still on the ground, we should all be reminded – alums and current class members – that renewal is part of every cycle, process, and system. Sometimes we cannot see what the future holds, but if we spend time working and investing in the future we hope to see for our city – not only for ourselves, but for our friends and families – we can expand on the vision and changes that have already begun in Syracuse.