Jobs and economic development are very important. But so are health and wellness. As a psychotherapist, coach and educator, I offer my top ten list:
Make the health of our residents a priority. Introduce and expand programs for city employees that prevent burnout and chronic health problems, increase fitness and reduce stress. Include health-related information and programming in community centers throughout the city and every other possible venue, including CAR 25 cable television channel.
Start an annual health festival to attract people to Downtown Racine and make it informative, lively and FUN. Make sure to include non-traditional and holistic approaches as well as traditional Western medical approaches There are many people in this area, including myself, who would gladly collaborate for such an event.
Make our educational system healthy. Create an exceptional educational system with the best teachers and administrators and the most up-to-date programs, including projects that promote creativity and innovation on every level so that our residents are well prepared for high-status high-earning jobs.
Recognize that trauma is the root of many educational failures within the school system and contributes to a very high risk for mental health problems, addiction, domestic violence and gang membership. Then start a program to educate administrators, teachers, teachers’ aides and other educational staff to understand the signs of trauma, how the ability to learn and prosper in school is diminished and how educators and positively respond to traumatized students. Students who act out, drop out and appear not to be able to learn are typically suffering from unrecognized and untreated trauma.
Support the health of small business, including very small businesses, for the start up and maintenance phases. Closely examine rules and regulations that put roadblocks in front of sincere business people and revise to make business people feel a valued part of the community. Develop satellite programs from CATI and other businesses resources within the city limits. Whenever possible, use Racine city and county businesses to do business for Racine city, rather than outsourcing.
Redesign community centers to become places that are vibrant, inclusive and imaginative. While many children and teens excel at sports, other children and teens do not have those skills, talents or inclinations. Make sure that non-competitive play, computers, video making, art, theatre, dance, music, cooking, gardening and many other choices for learning, community building and recreation are available. Plus, develop, create and expand programs for adults of all ages, including programs that address stress reduction, parenting skills and fitness.
Develop forward-thinking and innovative leadership for Racine. Collaborate with Leadership Racine, schools, colleges, places of worship, business, community centers, foundations and other places to nurture and develop true leadership for all the facets of our community, both the public and private sectors.
Promote green and sustainable living and green jobs and take every opportunity to protect and treasure the environment and community resources, both natural and human-made. The recycle bins are a great start but make sure to include recycling in every area of the community, including recycling the seasonal décor of the streets in the city.
Go forward with Racine as not only an All-American city but also an all-inclusive city. Make sure that all the stories, needs and experiences of all – rich, poor, young, old, powerful, powerless, business, government, retired, working, healthy, ill and so forth – who live and work in Racine are heard and valued.
Create a Council of Innovators, a yearly event that is open to all people in the community to exchange, present and share ideas on innovation, positive change and growth. Go beyond the traditional easels-PowerPoint-markers kind of program to developing an actual event that appeals to and draws lots of people, especially the young. For an example of one way to encourage innovation in city, see Mix Santa Fe, http://www.mixsantafe.com which focuses on “micro-stimulus resources and good times” in Santa Fe, N.M.
Karen Carnabucci, MSS, LCSW, TEP is owner of Lake House Health & Learning Center, 932 Lake Ave., Racine. You can reach her at (262) 633-2645 and read her work online at: