Monthly Archives: August 2007

If Downtown Naperville Charges for Parking, Will they Continue to Come?

I’ve been observing the ongoing debate regarding the history behind free parking in downtown Naperville and the future funding of additional parking as the allure of the Naperville experience continues to expand.

In the 1970’s, downtown decided to battle back against the rise of indoor shopping malls and strip malls with ample parking by keeping parking free in downtown.  Today, downtown Naperville has survived and thrived amidst the glut of strip malls which stripped away the attraction of downtowns across America in the 70s.

Some suggest that downtown is a strong enough destination to sustain present levels of economic activity while implementing paid parking to fund the additional structures which are needed.  Others turn to the new food and beverage tax which would allow an additional 1% to be added if the majority of downtown restaurants agree.  Still others suggest that restaurants should not be left to shoulder the burden as there are many downtown offices and businesses that occupy parking spaces all day long. 

Today I offer another angle to be considered which perhaps holds the answer to the dilemma.  We must ask residents and visitors alike who frequent downtown Naperville to determine their tolerance for paid parking and the amount they might be willing to pay in maintaining their regular visits.  If we discover, via interviews and survey research, that paid parking would be a deterrent to trips downtown, the answer and potential risk may become very clear.

   

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Naperville Riverwalk Back to Normal After Flooding, but Video Chronicles Waterlogged Weekend

While we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the waters have receded from the lower portion Riverwalk after a week of rain, it’s amazing to see what this Naperville landmark looked like just a couple of short days ago.  For those who did not venture downtown over the weekend, here’s a video montage of what you missed.

Portions of Naperville Riverwalk Become…Well…Simply a River After Week of Rain and Flooding

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After a week of rain, severe thunderstorms and subsequent flooding, the Riverwalk in downtown Naperville doesn’t quite look like itself today.  My son and I spent a sunny afternoon today in downtown walking along the waterlogged Riverwalk and watching the rushing waters of the DuPage River reclaim a portion of the scenic path through downtown as the river rises.  As you can see by the picture above, my son didn’t quite know what to make of the situation as he is used to running in endless circles around the Riverwalk’s outdoor ampitheater.

Below you will find a series of pictures I took which will give you an idea of exactly how much the river has risen over the past couple of days.  In addition, I captured quite a bit of video which I intend to edit and post as still pictures don’t quite do justice to the extraordinarily fast-moving rapids of flooded DuPage river.

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To those of you who have read my previous postings about the Riverwalk, I couldn’t help but show what has become of my favorite spot to relax and read. 

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Notice how close the water has risen underneath the Eagle Street bridge.  Also, look along both banks of the river and see the submersed lightpoles along the Riverwalk.  The good news is at least the water has not reached the city building.

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The sand volleyball courts between the skate park, baseball fields and Jacycees playground has become a reflection pond.

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If you plan to bring your children down to see the spectacle while the Riverwalk is still flooded, I encourage you to be extremely careful as the water is deep and swift moving.  Even more, the manner in which the DuPage has crept up onto the banks could had brought it dangerously close to the main Riverwalk path.  An accidental stumble down the shortened hill could sweep anyone into the waters.  Again, be very careful.

Though our hard-working City of Naperville crew will have a mess on their hands once the water recedes,  the Riverwalk should be back to normal in no time at all.  Based on stories I’ve heard, this is certainly not the worst flooding the Riverwalk has seen.  To our city crew, we send our deepest thanks and appreciation in advance for the work ahead.  

Naperville-Based Lima Lima Flight Team Shines During 2007 Chicago Air & Water Show

Each year, as my work travel schedule permits, I always head down to North Avenue Beach on the Friday before the annual Chicago Air & Water Show to beat the crowds and watch the practice-phase of the full program.  To anyone who hates crowds, I strongly recommend taking advantage of the Friday practice as you will see the entire show, and more, at a small margin of the crowd.

This year, I felt somewhat guilty having enjoyed such ideal weather conditions and clear skies during the Friday session given the poor weather on Saturday and Sunday.  

Of the many breathtaking aircraft and flight teams on display, it will come as no surprise to my readers that I always look forward to the Lima Lima flight team, which is based out of Aero Estates here in Naperville.  To those of us who live near Aero Estates, the shiny yellow color of the Lima Lima T-34s are quite familiar to the skies over Naperville.  It’s thrilling to have such a skilled flight team based out of our community.  I’ve posted a video clip from their Friday performance to share with the world the grace and precision of the Lima Lima flight team.

Below is a list of the current roster of members of the Lima Lima Flight Team:

Bill “Fingers” Cherwin (Naperville, IL)

Ed “Outlaw” Hicks (St. Charles, IL)

John “Ripper” Rippenger (Schaumburg, IL)

Jim “Bullet” Martin (Naperville, IL)

Stan “The Man” Robinson (Glen Ellyn, IL)

Gary “20 Won Don” Donovan (Lake City, FL)

Skip “Scooter” Aldous (Lake City, FL)

Lou “Cool” Drendel (Venice, FL)

Brian “Digger” McCann (Downers Grove, IL)

Scott “Painless” Sayre (Cincinnati, OH… love that Skyline Chili)

Rick “Knuckles” Nichols (Daytona Beach, FL)

Tim “Squeaks” Cherwin (Naperville, IL)

David “Dolly Bondo” Bond (Chicago, IL)

If you would like to learn more about the Lima Lima flight team, visit their website at www.limalima.com .  To the members of the Lima Lima Flight Team who may happen to read this posting, the publisher of the World of Naperville would never turn down the opportunity, if offered, to fly in a T34 and document via video for the World of Naperville and larger world to see.  Keep up the great work!  SM

  

The Future Dimensions of Community Participation and Volunteerism

While skeptics might argue that many parts of our world are becoming increasingly disconnected and irrelevant as the societal dust continues to settle here in the information-saturated internet age, I believe the ongoing evolution of technology will yield expanded interactive opportunities to not only communicate but also to engage in collaborative participation and volunteer our time in ways and at levels which seemed previously inconceivable.

What is social media you ask?  social media, also sometimes referred to as web version 2.0, is the ever-expanding host of internet-based technologies designed to foster two-way interactive online communication between those with uniquely shared interests.  MySpace, Facebook, Second Life, blogs, wikis, text messaging, Linked In, eVite and Meetup are all examples of popular social media technologies.

Using the World of Naperville as an example, this blog has provided not only a source of information but a point of connection between those with either a passion or mere curiosity about our community.  Interaction has taken the form of comments, email exchanges and many face-to-face meetings which have resulted from the online dialogue.  Given the fact I work outside of our community yet have a strong passion for Naperville and orientation toward community activism, this social media tool has not only enabled me to participate in and facilitate dialogue regarding community issues but has also allowed me to make connections with others ranging from local leaders to individuals living on the other side of the country looking to move to the area.

By no means do I consider myself to be what many would call a “digital native”.  I grew up just like many of you in a world of electric typewriters rather than PCs (my dad had two manual Royal typewriters).   I consider myself to be a digitial immigrant or someone who has proactively embraced technology in seeing the evolving mainstream possibilities which will continue to advance our society.   

While many may be quick to dismiss these technologies as a pastime for younger generations, introverts and frightening predators, the new frontier of social media itself is in its infancy and growing up rapidly each and every day.  As a society, we have yet to realize the full potential and application of social media in our traditional mainstream lives.  Largely, I believe social media technology is not as “otherworldly” as it may seem, but rather a new and innovative spin on traditional communication norms and practices.

While the corporate world has attempted to lead the charge in “owning” and leveraging new interactive technologies largely for marketing purposes, the true value of the social media world belongs to any critical mass of people with uniquely shared interests looking to not only engage in meangingful interactive discussion but also to participate in the advancement of thought and activity in the realm of their shared area of interest.  In essence, social media is all about volunteer social participation. 

To realize the true potential of the social internet medium in terms of community participation requires shifting the current paradigm of participation in the minds of community leaders and residents alike.  Further, it may provide some comforting reassurance to understand that social media, by design, could be considered “bridge” technology for it’s potential to transition the online world into traditional face-to-face interaction and participation.  Social media will also continue to remove the traditional cost and barriers of participation in opening up opporutnities to a larger pool of those looking to engage, interact and participate in either the online realm or in person.

Why is participation so important?  The success of Naperville is rooted in the success of its people.  Participation represents a personal investment which instills a sense of belonging/engagement which can ultimately lead to a high degree of loyalty and activism.  As you will recall from previous postings along this same subject line here at the World of Naperville, its the people and the inclusive nature of participation which creates a powerful and memorable experience and comprises the heart and soul of any community.

As next generation versions of social media and internet technology continue to evolve and utilization expands, I encourage all for-profit and not-for-profit organizations within Naperville or any community of like-minded people to see the potential this communication medium represents on a local, regional, national and even global scale.

More to come… SM

     

          

Community Evangelism in Naperville… It’s Not What You Might Think

When it comes to hiring outstanding customer service-oriented employees, “attitude” is often more important than “aptitude”.  Mainly because most business processes and tasks can be taught, while attitude cannot.

Over the weekend, I attended a session presented by Jackie Huba, a thought leader and author who has focused on the rise of mainstream social media and viral marketing.  Two books you might consider purchasing and reading are “Customer Evangelism” and “Citizen Marketer”. 

Customer evangelism is the process by which ordinary people transform themselves into powerful activist marketers as a result of either passion or disappointment for a certain product/service/business and access to social media outlets by which to engage and broadcast their love or disgust for their product or brand.

When I think of Naperville and consider the theories advanced by Jackie Huba, one fundamental point she misses is the fact that customer evangelism starts with solid employee evangelism.  To succeed in building a buzzworthy customer service culture, you need to have great people on the front line who will shape the experience and leave a lasting impression on your customers.  Look for true believers in what you do and the customer-base you serve.  

Naperville, as a whole, is a big brand in and of itself.  As residents, employees and business owners, we all have the opportunity to be community evangelists.  As I’ve addressed in previous posts, we all play a role in shaping the Naperville experience. 

One point I always stress to my member service team is the reality that the person you are talking to, reading an email from or standing face-to-face with may be the 100th person you’ve encountered that day.  But for the individual on the other side, it may be the only time they ever reach out to connect with you, your business or your city.  It’s what I call a moment of truth and we all have the power in our hands to make or break that moment. 

So the next time an unfamiliar face crosses your path or walks into your business, think of what it will mean to them in terms of reinforcing the positive image of Naperville in going out of your way to make that person feel welcome in our community or at your business.  Remember, how you make them feel is what will always matter the most. 

Just Back from the American Society of Association Executives 2007 Annual Meeting

For those of you who may be wondering why it’s been a few days since my last post, I spent the last four days in downtown Chicago at the 2007 American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) 2007 Annual Meeting.  ASAE is the professional society for association executives across the country and around the world.    

Though I’m uncovering from the meeting having served as both a speaker and attendee,  I will have many thoughts and perspectives to share based upon the overall experience.  Aside from the dialouge and trends relating to my industry, I related a good deal of the thought leadership and education to our own situation here in Naperville as we forge a direction toward our own future.

For now, I need to get some rest as it’s back to work tomorrow.  More to come from my the scribbled pages of my meeting notebook in the coming days.