EngageJax!

EngageJax is really an opportunity for you to learn what those changes are and how they come about, engage with who is working to make those changes, and most importantly, how you can act to make an even greater impact.

We share posts on a variety of topics, including leadership development, community vision, and opportunities to engage in the community. You’ll also get in-depth, fact-based views of important Jacksonville issues, overviews of JCCI programs, projects, and events, and details about what we’re reading and why. We'll also have an opportunity to ask some of our friends six questions - and share their answers.

We hope that you'll check back with us regularly. If you have suggestions on content, we'd love to hear it. If you have a comment or opinion on what you see here, we hope you’ll post it to our comments, and help us start meaningful discussions.

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JCCI-lebrity Alert: Denise Reagan

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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on Monday, 25 November 2013
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Name: Denise M. Reagan

Role with JCCI: Mystery Lunch guest

What do you do from 9-5? 
For the last 18 months, I’ve been editor of Folio Weekly. That means I direct the story content of the magazine and edit all of its contents. I work closely with our small but might full-time staff  and a large group of talented freelancers. Starting Dec. 9, I will be managing communications at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville

What do you do outside of work?
When I’m not at work, I try to spend most of the time with my husband and our 8-year-old daughter. She and I have tended our growing backyard garden for the last five years. We also love attending community events such as First Wednesday Art Walk, food truck rallies, concerts, plays and other art events. I am a big fan of Downtown, so I look for opportunities to go to events and eat there as much as possible. And soon I’ll be working there as well.

How & when did you get involved with JCCI or JCCI Forward?
I was thrilled to be asked to participate in a lunch conversation about Downtown Jacksonville. I’m a big fan of the work JCCI does, and I’m particularly excited by the JAX2025 project’s goals.

What is your favorite hidden gem in Jacksonville?
I don’t know if it’s hidden, but Downtown is ignored by a large segment of the community. It’s not on their radar, or they’re afraid of even going there. They don’t realize what’s already happening there and what more is in store. I’m excited to work for MOCA and let people know why they need to walk in those doors — and then try a restaurant and see a show or go to a club.

What community issue is on your radar that doesn’t get enough attention right now?
Hemming Plaza needs a complete overhaul to signal to everyone that Downtown Jacksonville is the cultural center of Northeast Florida. We should gut the square and install an amphitheater to host concerts of all kinds, theater productions and more. And it could still be the center of regular events like First Wednesday Art Walk. Then a streamlined system must be put in place so that groups can easily book the space and create constant activity there.

Why is JCCI important to you and Jacksonville?
I was born and raised here. My daughter will also call Jacksonville her hometown. I left for almost 20 years and came back. I’d like her to want to live here as well.

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A Year of Thanks

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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on Sunday, 24 November 2013
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It’s that time of year again! The holidays are swiftly upon us, and decorations in stores seem to be out earlier than ever before. It’s around this week that “Thankful” seems to become another buzzword, but here at JCCI, we truly have so many things to be thankful for this year.

We’ve seen a lot of change over our last fiscal year, including the addition of some invaluable staff members, and the preparations to head to a new office space. We’ve been faithfully tracking community indicators as alwyas, and sharing stories of Northeast Florida’s quality of life both here at home and beyond. Most significantly, we launched and faciliatated the JAX2025 visioning initiative to imagine and build a better future for Jacksonville, and the response to that call to action from Jacksonville residents could not make us more proud.

As we head into a short week that will soon be full of turkey, football, parades, and family time, we thought we’d share what we’re thankful for this year with you. And in true JCCI fashion, not just what we’re thankful for, but also what some of our most involved board members, advocates, and volunteers are thankful for as well. Happy Holidays to all!

Michelle Simkulet, JCCI Staff
“I’m thankful for Forward and the seemingly never-ending energy this group of emerging leaders has to approach working with all the JAX2025 Targets. And, more personally, seeing JCCI align and commit their efforts to Mental Health in Jacksonville is like a wish come true!”

Annette Puller, Forward Outreach Committee Member
I am thankful this year for HandsOn Jacksonville and Michele Simkulet at JCCI, both of whom are working On Target to make this a city Where People Matter.  HandsOn Jacksonville has given me the opportunity to serve as a volunteer for AngelAID and to be a project leader, leading a group a volunteers feeding Jacksonville’s homeless men, women, and children.  Michelle’s enthusiasm and support has led me to volunteer for JAX2025, Forward, and serve as a board member for Mental Health of America of Northeast Florida.

Daniel Austin, JCCI Staff
“I’m thankful for The 5 & Dime, a Theatre Company this year. Working On Target for Arts and Entertainment, my work on their board has allowed me to continue brining art to Jacksonville’s urban core and expanded my own definition of what kind of arts community Jacksonville can support.”

Katie Ross, JCCI Volunteer
“I’m thankful for the wonderful training I received as a graduate of Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2013. The program allowed me to grow into a better community trustee and see that we’re all interconnected and have a responsibility to improve quality of life in our community. Works perfectly into the Exemplary Governance target under JAX2025 in terms of training our future community leaders!”

Susan Cohn, JCCI Staff
“I’m thankful for the efforts of the Duval County Food Policy Council, whose work continues to draw attention to cultivating a regional food system that provides fresh and healthy food for all.  With events such as the 2nd annual Food Summit, held earlier this month, the FPC works On Target to help Jacksonville become one of the Healthiest Communities in the region.”

Matt Galnor, Forward Outreach Committee Member
“I'm thankful that I had to park and walk three blocks to pick up dinner from our Murray Hill pizza joint on a regular old Friday night. It's great to see the area bustling, with more entrepreneurs on the way. Recent development and announced plans for businesses along Edgewood Avenue are huge steps toward the JAX2025 target of fostering Distinct, Flourishing Neighborhoods for people to call home.”

Stephanie Donelan, Forward Executive & Action Committee Member
“I'm thankful for the hardworking volunteers with CISV for being focused on making Jacksonville a model city for Diversity and Inclusiveness by working to promote peace education through youth programming.”

Aschelle Morgan, JCCI Staff
“This year, I am thankful for One Spark. As a former staff member turned avid supporter, it is truly incredible to be connected to an organization  working On Target for Arts and Entertainment and a Vibrant Economy. Not only has the organization transformed the dialogue in and about Jacksonville, it has transformed my own perception of the importance of arts and innovation in community development.  Thanks to One Spark we have uncovered how incredible our existing local culture is and can be truly energized about where we are headed in 2025.”

Staci Grant, JCCI Volunteer
I am thankful for the inspiration of high quality local storytelling. Being able to attend or be a part of a moving performance in my hometown is really fulfilling, and working towards a strong Arts and Entertainment scene, as well a a vibrant Urban Heart

Ale'ta Turner, Forward Outreach Committee Chair
I am thankful for PowerUP Jax because it allows me the opportunity to interact with innovative Duval County Public School teachers, who work every day to ensure our students are prepared for college and workforce ready. PowerUP Jax encourages community involvement in supporting our local schools, teachers and students. I would like to thank our teachers working On Target by striving for Educational Excellence!

Steve Rankin, JCCI Staff
“I’m thankful that Jacksonville is finally reaching a tipping point in momentum for meaningful downtown revitalization.  We need the vitality and positive energy that a vibrant downtown can provide, and it’s encouraging that a number of stakeholder organizations seem to be aligning to make it happen.  This supports the Neighborhoods & Urban Heart target area of JAX2025.”

Jim Sylvester, JCCI Volunteer
“I am thankful that so many in the community are working hard to promote Healthy living in Jacksonville and recognizing that all the other JAX2025 targets are important partners in achieving its promise.”

Stefan Stears, JCCI Volunteer
Always on target for Arts & Entertainment, I am thankful for Jacksonville's renewed passion for an artistic identity. The recent mural project is especially something I never thought I'd see in Jacksonville. Dreams do come true!! Also, with my personal experience in running Jacksonville's Official Instagramers Network, I'm thankful for the huge support from people all over the 904, that love taking local photos and using our special hashtag to connect with others who have the same passion. 

Molly Wahl, JCCI Staff
“I am thankful for the Cathedral Arts Project.  Working On Target for both Arts & Entertainment and Excellence in Education, my work with CAP took me inside the classroom to see firsthand the importance of arts education, especially for children with little or no previous exposure to the arts.”

Marcus Haile, JCCI Volunteer
“I am thankful for the Board, donors, volunteers and artists of the Cathedral Arts Project. They are all fulfilling the arts education strategy of the Arts and Entertainment Target by providing over 2,000 elementary and middle schools students expanded opportunities for arts education in local after school programs!”

Ben Warner, JCCI Staff
“I’m thankful this year for the work of Leadership Jacksonville. I’m volunteered with them as they work On Target in Exemplary Governance to create well-informed, actively engaged, community-minded stewardship in remarkable class after class. It’s a privilege to feel their energy and passion for making this city great.”

Christina Parrish, JCCI Volunteer
I am thankful for every member of the steering committee for Groundwork Jacksonville, a coalition of nonprofits and city employees who came together to promote the environmental cleanup and restoration of Hogans Creek and the adjacent greenway in Springfield and East Jacksonville. Because of the committee's hard work, our city was recently selected by the National Park Service to receive funding as a new member of Groundwork USA. Beginning in early 2014, Groundwork Jacksonville will focus on revitalizing this very special part of our urban core. So grateful that I can participate in this project, which hits the bullseye on JAX2025's "Clean and Green" target! 

Yvonne Lozano, JCCI Volunteer
I am thankful for all the artists who have sacrificed and given so much of themselves and their art to engage and empower our community for a better tomorrow. Local artists have been and will always be a crucial factor in the Arts and Entertainment Target for Jacksonville. 

Candace Long, JCCI Staff
““I am thankful for my JCCI Family. I am continuously amazed at the dedicated efforts each individual in the office provides to build a better Jacksonville. I admire this family for guiding me through a world of community engagement that, prior to my employment with the organization, I never knew existed.”

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Aschelle Morgan Joins JCCI Staff

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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on Wednesday, 20 November 2013
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  Media Alert

  For Immediate Release

JCCI Appoints Aschelle Morgan as new Community Planner

Heading into new year, JCCI strengthens resources with a bold new hire

11/20/13 Jacksonville, FL - JCCI (http://www.jcci.org) announced today that Aschelle Morgan has joined the nonprofit organization to further develop their community outreach abilities and strategic partnerships. Aschelle Morgan comes with a wealth of experience within the Northeast Florida region and beyond. Previously, she served as ImpactJAX Coordinator working with JAX Chamber, and as One Spark Inc.’s Community Outreach and Partner Development Manager, where she developed and implemented the community outreach strategy to launch and execute the world’s first annual crowdfunding festival, with the team’s efforts resulting in nearly 500 festival entries and over 130,000 attendees in downtown Jacksonville, FL for 5 days in April 2013. Joining in advance of JCCI’s move to the WJCT building downtown and an upcoming brand refresh, Aschelle can continue her success.

Aschelle joins JCCI as Community Planner to continue JCCI’s recent success with the initial year of JAX2025. Her focuses will include developing partnerships to further the “Build It” phase of the initiative, as well as work with Forward to continue to develop young leadership in the area. Aschelle comments, “I am so excited to begin a new challenge with JCCI, an organization that I have admired for a long time, and look forward to working with the team to further develop their already extensive community services. I am fortunate to be joining such a respected nonprofit in an arena that I am truly passionate about.”

Ben Warner, President & CEO said, “Aschelle’s energy and enthusiasm are evident whenever you come in contact with her. We are fortunate to have her join our efforts, and know that she will become a key addition to the JCCI family. We view her appointment as a sign of our commitment to Jacksonville; her work will allow us to serve the community in new ways. I am incredibly pleased that we were able to find someone of Aschelle’s caliber to fulfill this role."

About JCCI

Every day, JCCI is driven by the bold idea that together we can build a better community. We bring people together to learn about their community, engage in problem solving, and act to make positive change.

JCCI boasts the longest-running community Quality of Life indicator report in the world, for which the organization is called upon both locally and internationally as a best-practice example. JCCI’s Community Snapshot serves the NE Florida region with up-to-date indicator data. Forward is JCCI’s leadership development program, working to prepare Jacksonville’s upcoming leaders to be good stewards of our community. JAX2025 is a community-owned and –driven initiative to both imagine and build a better future for Jacksonville, facilitated by JCCI.

JCCI-Jacksonville Community Council Inc. is a nonprofit civic organization driven by the bold idea that together we can build a better community. Since 1975, JCCI has been bringing people together to learn about our community, engage in problem solving, and act to make positive change in Northeast Florida and beyond. JCCI’s inquiry process and indicator reports have served as models for hundreds of communities around the world. For more information, visit the JCCI website at www.jcci.org.
 

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Health in All Policies, From Food to Design

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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on Monday, 18 November 2013
in JAX2025 · 0 Comments

One of the most exciting parts of JAX2025 is that we as a community are better able to see alignment of work across the city than we could before. Under the ten Targets, it’s easy to identify and categorize work being done, and through this lens of focus, we can all join together to make sure our individual work has collective impact.

One Target that is at an absolute fever-pitch currently is Health. Our community has always been health-care focused, with a slew of world-class hospitals and healthcare centers. Currently, the paradigm shift in Jacksonville is to focus on wellness and preventative measures, in order to move our system from a reactive one to a proactive one.

This past week, the JCCI staff participated in two excellent health and wellness focused events. The first was the I’m a Star Foundation’s Great Cafeteria Experience. Taking place at Jean Ribault High School, attendees included members of the Duval County School Board, Mayor’s Office, and City Council. Guests were able to sample different types of school lunch in Duval County, including Sandalwood High’s award-winning student culinary program, and Ribault’s everyday lunch line. Afterwards, panel discussions were held with groups of students, as well as DCPS employees and registered nutritionists to discuss the quality of the food served to our students and ways we can improve both quality and nutritional value.

The second event was the Second Annual Duval County Food Summit. Hosted by the Duval County Health Department, Dr. Laureen Husband, director of Healthy Jacksonville, said the goal “is to build an accessible food system by cooking delicious, healthy meals that are not costly or complicated.” JCCI Vice President & COO Dr. Laura Lane attended the Summit and reported back with the following:

“The Second Annual Food Summit was all about challenges and solutions. First off, Jacksonville’s challenges include two dozen neighborhoods located in food deserts, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In these struggling neighborhoods, three times as many fast food outlets and convenience stores provide food to residents compared to other areas of Jacksonville where fresh fruits, veggies, and healthier choices are more accessible. And like schools across the U.S., we are feeding our children lunch food that’s been frozen, canned and microwave-heated.

What’s all this led to? Overweight and obese Jacksonville residents that have a higher prevalence of chronic diseases. The Solutions: policy, laws, education, and even art. At the Duval Food Summit, we watched a trailer for a Jacksonville documentary, It’s Huge. We engaged legislators such as Representative Mia Jones and Councilwoman Lori Boyer on changes in laws that change our lives. We learned about elementary schools that run farmers’ markets and even a mobile farmers’ market in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There are LOTS of great ideas and synergies out there, such as farms bringing produce to food deserts, urban agriculture managed by nonprofits, and the slow food movement. We got lots of great recipes…Have you ever made cake without lots of butter? There are ways, and we learned about them!”

At our JCCI 39th Annual Meeting last month, Dr. Kelli Wells of The Florida Department of Health in Duval County spoke passionately about the numbers and factors affecting childhood obesity in Jacksonville:

“Childhood obesity is a complex issue with multiple root causes; each child is different. We must recognize the variety of factors that caused this problem, such as the increased availability of convenience foods, a lack of access to healthy foods, a decrease in safe places to live and play- these are just a few of the environmental factors that influence a child’s overall health.

While it seems our community and our children face an uphill battle, there is much cause for celebration. In 2008, 14% of high school students were reported obese, and four years later, the same percentage appeared – these numbers are stable. This is because Jacksonville, as a community, has prioritized childhood obesity for 12 years, and our policy work and programmatic effort is making an impact.

There is not a simple solution to reverse this health crisis. We know that childhood obesity requires policy change, behavioral change, institutional change, environmental changes, as well as changes in funding priorities. There is no magic bullet. I can tell you that there are core components, necessary conditions, for preventing childhood obesity: community vision and collaboration. More than 12 years ago, the Jacksonville community had a vision for collaboration on preventing obesity, and it created the Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition. That focused vision has kept one of the longest-running grassroots coalitions in the US going strong. JAX2025 has reinforced that desire to come together to prevent our children from living shorter lives than their parents. Maintaining this vision of lasting change in our schools, markets, neighborhoods, and food system is more than an idea. It is our action in progress!”

And just recently on November 7th, Jacksonville welcomed one of the country’s leading authorities on healthy community design. Dr. Richard Jackson, Professor and Chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the Fielding school of Public Health at UCLA lead local stakeholders from both the heath and land development sectors through a provocative account of the connection between poor community design and the burgeoning health costs. Dr. Dawn Emerick, CEO of the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida, had the following to say about our physical health and neighborhoods having a strong connection:

“The connection between public health and land development specifically is not a new phenomenon, but it is becoming more relevant as we search for innovative ways to address the increasingly high rates of chronic diseases and crime. Concerns about how to address these factors have led to a focus on “health in all policies,” in which policies in non-traditional sectors such as land development, transportation, housing, employment, and agriculture ideally would contribute to health and health equity.

The Health Planning Council has been studying the relationship between healthcare utilization, population health and the physical environment for more than 40 years.  In a recent community health needs assessment completed for the Jacksonville Metropolitan Community Benefit Partnership, three main themes for community health improvement surfaced: Decrease Health Disparities, Increase Preventative Health Care, and Improve the Build Environment.

The way in which the physical environment has developed and evolved has had a profound effect on physical, mental and social health of our populations.  As a result, we are now seeing a greater understanding as to the importance of aligning the two fields of study more closely.  For example, in one of Dr. Jackson’s episodes of Designing Healthy Communities entitled, Retrofitting Surburbia, he investigates the link between our nation’s obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemic with urban sprawl fueled by car dependency.  As recent as the early 2000, Jacksonville too experienced similar sprawl  facilitating our community’s dependency on automobiles thus having one of the highest commute times to work in Northeast Florida.

Clearly, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), at both the National AIA Chapter and Jacksonville Chapter understand how architects can help create healthier communities.  In addition to bringing Dr. Jackson to Jacksonville, AIA has recently partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to advance CGI’s Decade of Design. The Global Urban Solutions Challenge is a ten year pledge that will document, envision, and implement solutions related to the design of the urban built environment in the interest of public health and effective use of natural, economic and human resources.  Locally, the Jacksonville AIA Chapter is leading the charge to develop a special “Healthy Design” committee dedicated to influencing local policy.  Architects cannot only stop this perfect storm approaching, but architects are crucial in preparing all of us to prevent avoidable misery by reconnecting health to our buildings and neighborhood design.”

Whether it's by design or through the food we eat, there's never been a bigger focus on health in our community. What are you doing to move the needle?

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Update on Progress in Londrina, Brazil

Posted by Ben Warner
Ben Warner
Ben became the President & CEO of JCCI in 2011. He's been working with JCCI since 1998 in a number of capaciti...
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on Tuesday, 05 November 2013
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It's always gratifying to see how other communities are applying JCCI's Model of Community Change to engage their people in creating a brighter future. I had that privilege today, and I wanted to share the moment with you, the extended JCCI family.

The first time I visited Londrina, Brazil was in 2009. David Swain, JCCI's long time Associate Director, had done some consulting for JCCI in the state of Parana some years earlier, and one of the results was the creation of the Forum Desenvolve Londrina in 2005. They used our model to do both community-based inquiries around important issues as well as community quality-of-life indicators. In 2010, when I returned, we were able to see great progress in both Londrina and the neighboring cities of Apucarana and Maringa. (Those of you who were at TEDxJacksonville may remember me sharing a story from Londrina in my talk.)

So it was a real pleasure to meet today with Luis Claudio Galhardi from the Forum Desenvolve Londrina to get an update on the work. (His daughter moved to Jacksonville -- either a small world moment or we did a really good job on selling the merits of our fair city!)

He shared with me their latest work -- a new report on Health in Londrina, another one on Adolescents in Trouble with the Law, and one called "Third Sector: The Participation of the Organized Society in the Formulation, Implementation, and Monitoring of Public Policy." I'm particularly interested in this report, because they had me serve as a resource speaker for their study group! The cover of this report draws linkages among Governance, Sustainable Development, Working by Consensus, and Social Networks -- a very rough translation of the report's primary conclusions would be:

  • Invest in local social capital, supporting entrepreneurship and dissemination of civic initiatives that strengthen social networks.
  • Establish a new form of "governance" in the social contract, where government and citizens can interact across distributed networks in order to improve consensus building in partnership projects and public policy actions, constituting a huge instrument towards a new era of civilization where peace and social justice are not just a hope, but a true and definitive conquest.
  • Implement teachings that encourage collective imagination, solidarity, cooperative, associative and civic entrepreneurship.
  • Improve mechanisms for evaluation and control of the third sector providing public services (measure the effects of your action).
  • Governance should be a process of political intelligence.

He also shared with me their latest indicators report, and some fascinating work he does with his work to create peace in the community -- dusting off a Portuguese word that means to actively wage peace and using it to drive policy and action in the community. He's pushing some of the specific reforms they've already made in Londrina up to the national level, and are hoping to have them enacted before Brazil hosts the World Cup.

The work we do at JCCI continues to echo globally, and we continue to learn from others as they too believe in the bold idea that together we can create better communities. It's exciting to see how others bring people together to learn about their communities, engage in problem-solving, and act to make positive change.

Plus it was fun to try out my very rusty Portuguese!

Thank you for all you do to support JCCI. What you do makes a difference.

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JCCI-lebrity Alert: Frank Denton

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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on Friday, 01 November 2013
in Six Questions · 0 Comments

Our JCCI-lebrities series allows you a chance to get to know the real celebrities behind JCCI: our volunteers, speakers, & advocates! JCCI is an organization that works for and works with the community, so we couldn't do what we do without our JCCI-lebrities. We ask our JCCI-lebrites six questions in a street-style interview to put you in the know; think of it as your Jacksonville Star Watch! Today, we're featuring Frank Denton from The Florida Times-Union, a JCCI supporter and recently became a JCCI-lebrity by sharing his story of building a better Jacksonville at our 39th Annual Meeting (Video from the meeting is now available on YouTube: Click here to watch).

Name:  Frank Denton

Role with JCCI:  Speaker and attendee

1.  What do you do from 9-5?

Editor of The Florida Times-Union and Jacksonville.com

2.  What do you do outside of work? 

I take advantage of Jacksonville’s wonderful arts events, and I reboot by travelling a lot internationally, for fun and adventure.

3.  How & when did you get involved with JCCI or JCCI Forward?

If you care about the community, how do you not become involved?  When I first came to town five years ago, I was handed some JCCI reports and was impressed.  People told me how lucky we are to have JCCI, when other cities can only ask for help . . . from our JCCI.

4.  What is your favorite hidden gem in Jacksonville?

Our international flavor and texture – wonderful restaurants but also international food stores and fascinating people building their lives here after escaping other countries.

5.  What community issue is on your radar that doesn’t get enough attention right now?

As I said in my talk at the JCCI Annual Meeting, it’s the desperate plight and dim future for many children in our inner city.  So many people and organizations are working on our public education system, but we at the Times-Union are working hard to also raise and examine all the issues around the homes and neighborhoods that are not nurturing their – our! – children so they can take advantage of the education available.  Call it the dropout-to-prison pipeline most succinctly, but it’s the whole set of economic, social, family and racial issues that are destroying too many of our children and holding our city back with law-enforcement and prison costs, constrained economic development, lessened public safety and lost souls.

6.  Why is JCCI important to you and Jacksonville?

We have lots of resources in Jacksonville, but JCCI is unique in that it provides a credible framework for caring citizens to work together in a disciplined and responsible way to address the issues of our time and our town.

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JCCI-lebrity Alert: Michael Boylan

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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on Monday, 28 October 2013
in Six Questions · 0 Comments

Our JCCI-lebrities series allows you a chance to get to know the real celebrities behind JCCI: our volunteers, speakers, & advocates! JCCI is an organization that works for and works with the community, so we couldn't do what we do without our JCCI-lebrities. We ask our JCCI-lebrites six questions in a street-style interview to put you in the know; think of it as your Jacksonville Star Watch! Today, we're featuring Michael Boylan from WJCT, who has been a long-time JCCI supporter and recently became a JCCI-lebrity by sharing his story of building a better Jacksonville at our 39th Annual Meeting (Video from the meeting is now available on YouTube: Click here to watch).

Name: Michael Boylan

Role with JCCI: Advocate, supporter, speaker

1.  What do you do from 9-5? 

As CEO of WJCT, I have learned that my focus is not on the present, but the future and not on inside the “submarine,” but outside of it. As a result, I spend a fair amount of my day in developing and acting upon the strategic initiatives that we have in place to advance the well-being of WJCT and our mission of service to the community.  Secondly, I stay engaged in a number of community activities to both contribute my time and talent to support them but also to demonstrate that this organization is not just about WJCT.  Because I work with an excellent management team in whom I have a great amount of trust, what little balance of my time that is left is spent providing them with guidance and support.

2.  What do you do outside of work?  

I guess what I am known for, having heard it time and time again, is that I am everywhere.  By that I mean I spend many of my evenings and weekends engaged in activities and events throughout the First Coast and others recognize that to be the case.  While I “love” this kind of involvement, my family and yes - that includes our dogs (I’m one of those) are my first priority and passion.  I wish I could say I was an avid golfer because I so love the sport, but my personal time is spent in taking care of my yard, my dogs and my family. 

3.  How & when did you get involved with JCCI or JCCI Forward?

I first learned about JCCI back in 1999 when I was in the throes of deciding to accept the current position I hold with WJCT.  Not knowing much about the community I stumbled upon JCCI and I was most impressed with the mission and vision of the organization and I have to say it played a role in my coming here.

Within a year or so I was asked to serve on the JCCI board and likely overstayed my welcome as I was invited by three subsequent chairs to continue my service on the board beyond the normal term.

One of the things JCCI took on during my tenure on the board which I am most proud of was the Race Relations study.  It took a fair amount of discussion to do so but the effort was worth it.

4.  What is your favorite hidden gem in Jacksonville?

My wife Susan and I are very blessed to have found a very lovely home in Mandarin and my favorite hidden gem is our backyard.  Because of the view of a large pond, trees to the left and well kept homes to the right we decided to add a sunroom and build out a patio.  While we never spend enough time enjoying both settings it is my respite from my many scheduled-filled days…more so in the morning than the evening however.

5.  What community issue is on your radar that doesn’t get enough attention right now?

I have shared this with some but moving to Jacksonville from South Florida in 1999 where everyone is a minority, the issue of race relations became very palpable to me and I, as a white, middle-age male in a position of some prominence, did not want to be (or viewed to be) part of the problem.  I quickly became engaged in the Human Rights Commission’s Study Circles program and have since co-facilitated a number of circles.  I am saddened to see the program on the wane, due largely to budget cuts and I suspect a lack of strong commitment to it in City Hall.  I say that because I had seen, many times over, what a ”game changer” that program was for countless numbers of people.  While not as flashy as other such initiatives I believe it is the most impactful because it advances the belief that change begins within.

6.  Why is JCCI important to you and Jacksonville?

For us at WJCT, we have consistently found the JCCI Quality of Life report and the annual studies a great source and catalyst for community discussions on our various platforms.  We actively encourage our Community Advisory Board members to use them as a reference in identifying critical community issues which the editorial team of WJCT uses to prioritize our news, and public affairs programming.

For the community as a whole, I perceive its value two ways.  The first, of course, would be the engagement of citizens in identifying and plotting a course for rectifying the issues that hold back our community.  The second is the message conveyed by its very existence. Having such a civic organization as JCCI says volumes about this community as it did for me in the spring of 1999.

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JBJ Editorial: Time for Jacksonville to Think Bigger

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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The following appeared as an Editorial in the Jacksonville Business Journal on Friday, October 25th 2013.

Every day, stories in the paper and on the news, as well as projects that get developed in board rooms and through grass-roots organizations, continue in Jacksonville to be singly-focused. The key to success with JAX2025, and this city’s future as a whole, is so simple: alignment. It’s about connecting your goal with my goal, so that it becomes our goal.

Let’s all learn to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I’m not talking about a 30,000 foot view, or creating a pie-in-the-sky image in our minds that is unreachable, but rather just widening the frame of the current lens that we view Jacksonville through.

Why is this important? JAX2025 calls on us as stewards of our city’s resources, economic vitality, health, and future generations to shift to vision-based policies instead of only project-based policies. The question we must continue to ask ourselves in everything that we do is “What kind of city are we creating?” That question can be asked about something as small as choosing to recycle, or as big as dredging the St. Johns River or building a new scoreboard at EverBank Field.

There’s been a lot of talk about the new scoreboard. Everyone has their opinion, as they are entitled to have. But here again, let’s take a look a little bit wider. Instead of narrowing in on the scoreboard, let’s think about how it will affect the area and the city in general.

Currently, that section of town, “Midtown,” as some would call it, has a lot of projects in the works. There are movements to create an entertainment corridor down A. Philip Randolph Blvd., LISC’s EPIC communities initiative is working on improving the surrounding Eastside neighborhood, and there is a renewed interest in developing the Shipyards property. Soon, we could have a thriving district connected to Downtown that could draw visitors and residents alike to come and play in the area, and then stay in the core to eat dinner and appreciate the varied nightlife options.

To put it in sports terms, rather than focusing on the game’s score (or in this case the scoreboard), we need to think about the season as a whole. Games can be won and lost, but at the end of the day, it’s one game. Just like the Jaguars are working to focus on their long-term goals, the same must become true for the rest of us. It’s time to realize that together, we have the ability to create our desired future, but we have to think a little bigger in order to do so.

Corporations and citizens must connect for the sake of our community. Align with like strategies and goals, share project ideas, and work together on a shared vision. Let’s take the opportunity to create the Jacksonville that we all want, starting now.

-Ben Warner
President & CEO, JCCI

Join in the effort today. To learn more about becoming a JAX2025 Partner, visit www.JAX2025.org/partner.

To read the Editorial at the JBJ, head to their website: http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/print-edition/2013/10/25/its-time-for-jacksonville-to-think.html

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TED Takes JAX

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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You've heard of TED talks, right?

TED is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan ideas worth spreading. TED was founded in 1984 as a one-off event. The annual conference began in 1990, in Monterey, California. Since the rise of social media and YouTube, TED has taken off as people from across the globe share their favorite talks that move, inform and inspire. 

In fact, the conference series has become so popular that TED decided to develop a program called TEDx, with the "x" standing for "independently organized event," so that other cities and communities across the world could bring TED into their backyard.

Jacksonville's first-ever TED event was a small affair in Riverside/Avondale. This year, the local TEDx group developed an even bigger TEDxJacksonville conference, held at WJCT on October 26th. 

The day was really one for the books!

The speakers and performers at the event were mostly Jacksonville-based, with a few others mixed in for good measure. Al Letson, host of NPR's State of the ReUnion and the star of our JAX2025 "Sound of the City" video, was MC for the event, leading the crowd through a day of live speakers, video talks, performers, and more. 

Local speakers included Barbara Colaciello, theatrical educator, Chevara Orrin, local self-dubbed "soul connector," and Ben Warner, our President and CEO.

Ben gave a talk on community, modern democracy, and new models for civic engagement. Covering his own personal journey, Ben spoke about what he used to think democracy was (governmental power and the business sector) and what he grew to learn was missing from the equation (community involvement; a non-governmental sector that could engage citizens.) Ben told the crowd that his life changed fifteen years ago when he began working for JCCI, and he learned that every community must be able to ask itself two questions: 1.) What is important? and 2.) Who gets to decide?

Ben's speech included many examples of community engagement that JCCI has been involved in, and how it has helped changed the Jacksonville landscape and beyond. He talked specifically about working with San Antonio, Texas on developing their SA2020 visioning program, and then here at home with the JAX2025 initiative. 

The crowd enjoyed Ben's talk a great deal. People took to social media during the event to share quotes and express their excitement. Here is the live-blogging that came in from MetroJacksonville.com during Ben's talk, as well as some tweets:

   

 


     

    
Above: Ben gives his talk at TEDx, Ben pictured with foreign policy expert, author, professor, and international business consultant Nancy Soderberg. 


All-in-all, it was a great day. All of the speakers were engaging, exciting, and inspirational, and the audience had a wonderful time.

On behalf of JCCI, kudos to the TEDx crew for putting together a wonderful program, and to WJCT for being a great host. We look forward to more TEDx events in Jacksonville in the future!

To learn more about TEDxJacksonville, visit http://tedxjacksonville.com
And for even more coverage of the event, check out Folio Weekly's Storify by clicking here

-Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator

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JCCI-lebrity Alert: Kimberly Hyatt

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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Our JCCI-lebrities series allows you a chance to get to know the real celebrities behind JCCI: our volunteers, speakers, & advocates! JCCI is an organization that works for and works with the community, so we couldn't do what we do without our JCCI-lebrities. We ask our JCCI-lebrites six questions in a street-style interview to put you in the know; think of it as your Jacksonville Star Watch! Today, we're featuring Rev. Kimberly Hyatt from Cathedral Arts Project, Inc, who recently became a JCCI-lebrity by sharing her story of building a better Jacksonville at our 39th Annual Meeting.

JCCI-lebrity: Rev. Kimberly Hyatt
You've Spotted her with JCCI as a: Supporter

What do you do from 9-5?
I’m Executive Director of the Cathedral Arts Project, where we are celebrating 20 years of service to Jacksonville. I’ve been at the helm the past 11 years. We work to both provide instruction and also to increase access to instruction in the visual and performing arts for underserved DCPS students. This past year we served over 2,200 students with ongoing, standards-based classes.

What do you do outside of work? 
I love to play the piano, particularly jazz and standards, and would love to one day be good enough to entertain in a local restaurant! As Woody Allen puts it, “I have to practice every day to be as bad as I am.” After wanting to play banjo for 40 years, I have finally purchased one and look forward to learning! I am an avid football fan. I love playing with our two dogs, Oscar and Ethel, and three grandchildren.

How & when did you get involved with JCCI or JCCI Forward
I first became a supporter of JCCI after learning of its existence shortly after moving to town in 1996. I became more familiar with JCCI’s work while participating in the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission study circles around race relations in the late 90s.

What is your favorite hidden gem in Jacksonville? 
I hate to say it but for far too many, downtown is a hidden gem. It’s easy for those of us who are downtown on a regular basis to forget that most people in the area never go to the core of downtown. They don’t know what they are missing. Beautiful architecture, an arts district, and a vibe you cannot get anywhere else in Northeast Florida.

What community issue is on your radar that doesn’t get enough attention right now? 
Consciousness-raising around quality of life. The reality is that we must raise our taxes in order to secure the quality of life we all need for our city to prosper as a whole. On top of that, in such a large, spread-out city, people are not fully aware of the realities and hardships of daily life for those in neighborhoods we never visit. 

Why is JCCI important to you and Jacksonville?
Education is the key to growth and progress, and on so many issues, JCCI provides opportunities for citizens to engage and learn about critical topics. The more of us who take advantage of JCCI, the more the city as a whole will advance.

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LEARN - Community Snapshot gets a new look and new indicators

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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October marks a new year for JCCI, and JCCI’s Community Snapshot has a bold new look! Community Snapshot is JCCI’s interactive data mapping tool that lets you compare indicators and trends over time and in context with other Florida counties.


Watch for the Indicator of the Week in the Scoop for snapshots from CS.The re-design of Community Snapshot (CS) results from direct alignment with JAX2025. Previously, the community indicators tracked by JCCI fell into our nine, traditional focus areas, but as a product of the JAX2025 visioning process, these areas have been given a re-boot and now there are 10, corresponding to the 10 Targets of JAX2025, from Arts & Entertainment to Hub of Smooth Transportation.

Community Snapshot includes about 180 community indicators total, and these have also been overhauled so that the ones currently tracked answer the JAX2025 “Measuring Progress” questions like Do we have access to affordable healthcare; or Are we caring for the whole child? As part of JAX2025, you designed which community indicators JCCI measures and tracks. You can watch for different indicator sets that affect our community and their corresponding JAX2025 Target each week in The Scoop with our Indicator of the Week (pictured at left).

How do you use Community Snapshot?  Each indicator aligns with at least one of the 10 Target areas.  From the top left-hand box, select a Target, and then choose an indicator and a year.  Remember, the indicators and years of data available are nested within each Target so use the drop-down arrows to open and close the branches.  Choose which county or counties you want to learn about by selecting the counties on the map, or in the data explorer box on the right-hand side.  Looking for even more information about a particular indicator?  Click on the paper icon adjacent to each year, and you will find a specific web page dedicated to that indicator.



Additional tools to play with include the time series chart at the bottom of the page, and the county comparisons chart on the bottom right-hand side.  This is just a basic how-to.  For more detailed information on navigating Community Snapshot, contact me, JCCI Research Director Susan Cohn. You can also attend our free training for the re-vamped tool, taking place on November 20th at 11:30 a.m. at WJCT (Click here to RSVP). 

Community Snapshot is a great tool to learn about your community.  Anyone can use it, and it is particularly useful if you are writing a grant and need to gather your data from a one-stop shop.  If you’re a community decision-maker or an organizational stakeholder, use CS to gather information for strategic planning or priority-setting.  Working on a research project? CS is the tool for you as it gives a holistic look at our community, as well as other Florida counties.

What makes Community Snapshot different from other data dashboards and repositories? CS is place-based, focusing on Jacksonville, and the indicators have been ratified by the JAX2025 participants.  This is your community, and this is the data that matters most to you.  Click around; see what you think of the update; see what you LEARN.

-Susan Cohn, AICP
Research Director 

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JCCI's 39th Annual Meeting Tells Quite the Story

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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Over 250 of our nearest and dearest joined us last Thursday for our 39th Annual Meeting. It was an exciting lunch full of tales of building a better Jacksonville with the theme of "This is My Story."

 

The meeting was held at WJCT Studios; a fitting location, as it will be our new home come January 2014. WJCT President Michael Boylan shared his enthusiasm with the crowd about our big move: “There have been many discussions about shared visions. Both of our organizations are the ‘go to’ for residents who want to learn about North Florida and speak up and speak out,” he said.

He said the news and public affairs programming produced for radio and television by WJCT will be used to “spread JCCI’s message, as our two organizations share a similar purpose and commitment.”

In addition to Boylan, Dr. Kelli Wells from The Florida Department of Health in Duval County told her story as well. As she discussed her passion for ending the causes of childhood obesity, she shared with the crowd that "community vision and collaboration are essential for Jacksonville's overall health."

Rev. Kimberly Hyatt from the Cathedral Arts Project shared her story of working to reverse Florida's low arts education level in schools, as Florida is only one of five states not mandated to teach arts to children. "Through the Any Given Child Grant we received from the Kennedy Center," Hyatt said, "all Duval students will have an opportunity to enrich themselves through the arts starting next year. When the Kennedy Center was looking at Jacksonville a potential recipient, JAX2025 was a major factor. They said 'This city has a vision. They know where they're going and what needs to be done.'"

The Florida Time-Union's Frank Denton share several stories during the meeting. Denton told the crowd that each day through the paper, he sees both the best and worst things that happen in our city. "As journalists, we tell stories of redemption. Stories about real people that are the fabric of this community," Denton said. "Some stories are ugly and discouraging for our community. That's part of our job, too." He ended his segment by telling the crowd: "In Jacksonville, the ending of our story is unwritten. Will it be a tragedy or a triumph? It's up to us to decide, and I believe that a great part of that story will be written largely by the people in this room."

   

   

   

Want to read more from our Annual Meeting? Click here to read Max Marbut's write-up in The Daily Record.

Thanks to Maya Adkins of Maya Adkins Photography for our Annual Meeting photos.

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This is My Story... JCCI Moves into a New Year

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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JCCI heads into our 39th Annual Meeting this week, marking the end of a fantastic year and the beginning of new possibilities. Our scope of work was bigger than ever before, and we reached new heights in 2012-2013, and more importantly, engaged new people. Our theme for the Annual Meeting is “This is my story…” and we’ve invited distinguished guests to share their stories of building a better Jacksonville on Thursday. While we’re at it, we thought it might be a great time to reflect on the past year, look toward an even brighter future, and share our stories with you.



What are some of our favorite moments of the past year?

Steve Rankin, Program Director with JCCI for 7+ years: Walking downtown during the One Spark festival and realizing that Jacksonville had actually pulled off something of that scope.
Molly Wahl, Director of Development & Community Outreach, with JCCI for 3 years: The first time we saw Al Letson’s Sound of the City video to promote JAX2025!  It was a bold move and the start of a whole new direction for our work!
Susan Cohn, Research Director with JCCI for 5 months: Getting hired!
Laura Lane, Vice President & COO, with JCCI for 11 years: Listening to people who came to JAX2025 meetings to talk to each other at Prime Osborn on Saturday morning.
Michelle Simkulet, CFO & Director of Forward, with JCCI for 16 years: Entering the JAX2025 kids surveys, reading about their visions for the future of this city.
Candace R. Long, Administrative Assistant, with JCCI for 10 months: …I actually cannot think of 1 favorite moment. There are always days & events that I enjoy more than others. Those days & events that are closer to “the blue sky” and everyone is at ease, are the moments I cherish the most.
Ben Warner, President & CEO, with JCCI for 15 years: The day we launched the implementation of JAX2025. Seeing a packed room, standing-room-only, was overwhelming – so many great people all willing to lend their efforts in making Jacksonville better. Incredible.
Daniel Austin, Communications Coordinator, with JCCI for 8 months: Beginning the JAX2025 process as a concerned citizen, then working as a volunteer, then part-time employee until finally a full-time member of JCCI. Not a moment, but a journey, and a great one at that.


What are we most looking forward to in the new year?

Steve: Emerging plans for continued tangible and meaningful Downtown Revitalization.
Molly: The move to the new office.
Susan: Quality of Life Release in January – and Avett Brothers concert in November.
Laura: A-Ha moments during the Mental Health inquiry when 60 people answer the question: What surprised you?
Michelle: Our new work and meeting space.
Candace: I’m looking forward to the stabilization after the Big move which I predict will not occur until about March-ish!
Ben: The move to WJCT should open up exciting new opportunities to connect with people all across the region.
Daniel: Watching the community take ownership of JAX2025 goals, and collaborating with our new building-mates at WJCT.


What can our volunteers and engaged citizens expect from JCCI in the coming year?

Steve: The potentially game-changing concept of an Institute of Preventive Medicine and Urban Health has begun to assume traction with key stakeholders throughout the community now engaged in helping to make a reality out of what only six months ago was just a vision.  An idea developed by JCCI’s Recession Recovery committee on Healthcare & Biosciences, the Institute will hopefully begin to take shape in the year ahead.
Molly: A greater focus on those who invest in JCCI’s sustained success.  We can’t do any of our programs without funding from our supporters, and we will be focusing more on them!
Susan: A re-styled Community Snapshot, and a focus on how to best use this important tool!
Laura: JCCI is bringing together concerned citizens, philanthropists, health professionals, and civic leaders in order to get ahead of the issue of mental and emotional health in our schools, workplaces, and homes. Our aim is to renovate and update Jacksonville’s grid of opportunity so that everybody who wants to stay emotionally and mentally healthy can do so. We are taking the long view by recommending improvements that will involve individuals, institutions, and elected officials.
Michelle: Another great program year from Forward, the leadership program, includes some wonderful trainings. Beyond our core trainings, which many folks use as a refresher, we have series about how we develop our personal branding. Very exciting!
Candace: I expect to have a lot of work (good work though) in the next coming months with all the events on the calendar.
Ben: In the coming year, you’ll see more celebrations of the accomplishments people and organizations have made and the milestones reached in building the JAX2025 Vision.
Daniel: Improved communication lines to the people who make JCCI work – our volunteers! We’re refreshing all of our communication outlets from utilitarian use to look and feel, while working to stay on top of 21st century ways to engage in democracy, together.


What is your story?

Steve: My story with JCCI is about building the kind of city our young people of today will want to live in for the rest of their lives.  My own children, now adults, did not.
Molly: My story with JCCI
is about making connections to people and organizations who want to invest in our success.
Susan: My story with JCCI
is about using data to inspire community engagement and action. 
Laura: My story with JCCI
 is one of finding a massive bonfire at night and admiring lots of expectant faces lighted up by this bold idea that we can build a better Jacksonville.
Michelle: My story with JCCI
is about investing. Invest in one’s self, invest in one’s community, invest one’s future.
Candace: My story with JCCI
is a blessing in disguise. I enjoy being a part of such a positive organization that has aided in the discovery of my personal, future goals that were hidden prior to my employment with JCCI.
Ben: My story with JCCI
is about community transformation as people realize the power they have always held to create something amazing.
Daniel: My story with JCCI
is about telling other people’s stories in an effort to share, highlight, and celebrate the incredible things that happen in our community every single day.

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Mystery Guest Lunch with Superintendent Dr. Nickolai Vitti

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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JCCI Forward's Mystery Guest Lunches allow a small group of people to sit down for lunch with a local subject-matter expert. The catch? Attendees don't know who the guest is until they arrive for lunch! This week, attendees found themselves talking to Duval County Public Schools' new Superintendent. Ale'ta Turner, new Outreach Vice Chair for JCCI Forward, wrote this blog about her experience facilitating the lunch.

As Outreach Vice Chair for JCCI Forward, I had the opportunity to be a facilitator for the Mystery Guest Lunch on September 30. I had no idea that I would be guiding a conversation among different community leaders and Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti. As a facilitator, my job was to remain neutral and encourage participants to ask questions and share their thoughts.

At the table were nonprofit organization professionals with ties to education – public and private. School Board member Cheryl Grymes attended the Mystery Guest Lunch as well.

I’d like to share a brief summary of topics discussed over the course of the lunch hour.

Common Core State Standards

A nonprofit professional and parent expressed her dissatisfaction with FCAT pep rallies and parties.  Before the Superintendent arrived, we’d discussed the “moving target” each year in public education. Participants at the table believed that Florida would benefit from a national assessment where our state would be compared to others. Dr. Vitti expressed his support of the Common Core State Standards. He believes that as a state, Florida should participate in a national assessment.

Better Collaboration

As participants were getting to know one another, the question of who should be the central hub for convening different agencies and community members together was discussed. There was a shared consensus among the group that it was important that different nonprofit organizations, local governmental agencies and the District identify common goals and work collaboratively to achieve shared goals.

Photo Credit: Bob Mack, Jacksonville.com

Comparing Duval County to St. Johns County

A participant voiced her concern about various people forming the opinion that St. Johns County is better than Duval County. Dr. Vitti explained that St. Johns County students have a higher socio-economic status than students in Duval County. Dr. Vitti informed participants that his family resides in the city and his children attend public schools in Duval County.

Community Support

“What can we do to help you?” a participant asked.

Dr. Vitti and Cheryl Grymes expressed that community support was needed moving forward. Although the community wants and deserves results – it isn’t a quick fix. It will take time and a cultural change within the Duval County Public School District from the top level to the lower levels.


-Ale'ta Turner
Forward Outreach Vice Chair
*Photo Credit: Bob Mack, Jacksonville.com

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Six Questions with Maira Luz Martelo

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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Name: Maira Luz Martelo

Role with JCCI: I have been part of the JCCI Race Relations Progress Report Review Committee, participated in the JAX2025 visioning process, and now I was the latest Mystery Guest for lunch with Forward.

1. What do you do from 9-5?
I’m the Community Mobilization Director at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. My main responsibility is informing and mobilizing the Jacksonville diverse communities around the importance of improving the quality of public education for all children.

2.  What do you do outside of work?
I like to go to the gym, get together with friends, explore diverse restaurants in Jax, birding, meditation, reading, walking my dog (Murphy) and much more. I also like to help people. I mentor Hispanic students who want to pursue their college education. I’m very involved with the local Hispanic communities.

3.  How & when did you get involved with JCCI or JCCI Forward?

I got initially engaged with JCCI last year helping to proof read the English-to-Spanish translation of the JAX2025 survey. After that, I was invited to be part of the JCCI Race Relations Progress Report Review Committee. I also participated in several of the JAX2025 meetings, and I will be a member of this year's upcoming Quality of Life Report Review Committee.

Most recently, I was invited to be the mystery guest for JCCI Forward's Mystery Guest Lunch, as we talked about my work with JPEF and the educational system in Duval County.

4.  What is your favorite hidden gem in Jacksonville?

Castaway Island Preserve. It’s a great place to go birding, especially now that lots of birds are migrating. Nice place for a walk with your dog, if you have one.

5.  What community issue is on your radar that doesn’t get enough attention right now?

I think the diverse immigrant community here in Jacksonville is not getting enough attention. Just to cite an example, many people locally think that all Hispanics or Latinos are Mexicans, and most people don’t recognize how different we are. The Hispanic community faces many similar changes that other minorities in the city face, but in bigger proportions due to language and cultural barriers.

6.  Why is JCCI important to you and Jacksonville?

JCCI plays a unique and important role in the city by researching, reviewing, and discussing all issues that are or should be important for our community. The work with JAX2025 is an incredible example of a collective vision building for the future of our city. I’m proud to be part of JCCI.

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JCCI and Making the World a Happier Place

Posted by Ben Warner
Ben Warner
Ben became the President & CEO of JCCI in 2011. He's been working with JCCI since 1998 in a number of capaciti...
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On Sunday, September 8, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network released the 2013 World Happiness Report at the Columbia University Low Library. In conjunction with the report release, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) held one of three global Workshops on measuring subjective well-being. Together, the two groups identified key strategic partners and thinkers from across the world to discuss the science of measurement, implications for policy design, and implementation.

The challenge we face around the world is simple enough. What we measure is what we do. And what we measure on a global scale as the definition of progress is GDP -- Gross Domestic Product. Simply put, GDP is how much stuff we make -- and it doesn't distinguish between good stuff and rotten stuff. 45 years ago, Robert F. Kennedy said:

Even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction - purpose and dignity - that afflicts us all.

Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.  Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product - if we judge the United States of America by that - that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.

It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.  It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.

It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities.  It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.

It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

That's what we were there to talk about. And JCCI was one of the few (and only sub-national or local group) invited to present -- to share our experiences with measuring well-being in our community since 1985 through the Quality of Life Progress Report.  In my address, I suggested three reasons why were asked to speak, and then shared some thoughts with the group. I'd like to share an excerpt out of those remarks with you today:

Good afternoon. I am honored to speak with you today about our experiences with community well-being measurement in Jacksonville, Florida, and hope my remarks will trigger a discussion on the practical application of measures of subjective well-being in communities.

JCCI is driven by the bold idea that together, we can build a better community. As an NGO serving Northeast Florida for the past four decades, we bring people together to learn about our community, engage in problem-solving, and act to make positive change. I’d like to begin by sharing three reasons why I think I’ve been asked to present our case study for discussion.

First, our length of experience. JCCI developed its first set of community-level Quality of Life indicators in 1985, and has published annual updates every year since then. We have also helped numerous communities develop their own indicator systems. During the past three decades, we have learned a great deal about measuring community well-being at a local level, and using data to create sustainable community change.

Second, the practical nature of our work.  Our initiative needs to demonstrate effectiveness and relevance on an annual basis to obtain funding. We review our indicators annually with community stakeholders to ensure that we are measuring what matters to our residents and decision-makers. We are always called on to defend the use of our metrics in making policy changes, as well as the practical results of our working in creating measurable differences in our community. We must demonstrate results in order to maintain this initiative.

The third reason is that we have a track record of community acceptance of the measures. Our audience for the metrics include the entire community, from everyday residents to local media to business leaders and public officials. The measures have to be used and understood, and so we have some insight to share on how to create and sustain community acceptance of the indicators.

We find it hard to talk about subjective well-being without this quote from Tolstoy. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  When we measure the quality of life in communities, we need to dive down into the different areas of unhappiness and dissatisfaction to be able to create specific public policy interventions. OECD uses flowers in their Better Life Initiative. For us, we like to talk about constellations.

In the night sky, on a clear day in the country, we can see millions, if not billions, of stars. The sky might look something like this: Beautiful. Awe-inspiring. But too much to take in. Until someone connected just a few of the dots to draw a picture. You may have recognized this picture already. By putting together a series of data points into a constellation, we (or rather the ancient Greeks did) create a sense of order and can begin to tell a story. This constellation is, of course, Orion. And once we begin to tell that story, we can add meaning to those data points.

We’ve found that effective indicator sets pull together a set of data points, connect them in a meaningful fashion, and turn them into a story to move the community to action. And an important part of that story is well-being.

Here’s an example, in the policy area of public safety. We measure both objective indicators, like the crime rate, and performance measures, like police response times.  We measure subjective indicators, like have you been a victim of a crime in the last year?, and are you satisfied with the quality of public safety services provided by local government? But to tie the picture together, we have a well-being measure – do you feel safe walking alone in your neighborhood at night?

This one measure, do people feel safe in their own neighborhoods, is powerful. It speaks to people. And the constellation around it helps us understand the effectiveness of our efforts to move the needle on this measure.

One more example, looking at community governance. Voter registration, voter turnout, quality of elected officials, and satisfaction with government services together form part of a picture of community governance. But the real question of personal efficacy – do you feel that your voice is heard, that you can make a difference? – that measure provides the ability to both personalize the story and to drive policy discussion in the community.

So how do we choose what we measure?

Every indicator we measure represents a value statement, and everything that remains unreported makes a value statement as well. What we measure often affects what we do. I think we’re gathered here today because we recognize that if we do not measure subjective well-being, then the well-being of people continues to be left out of the discussions of public policy.

The two major questions we face in determining what we will measure are these: First, what is important to our community? Second, who gets to decide what is important?

We strongly suggest that the answer to the second question will determine the answers to the first. We began with the belief that the community – the broad, diverse group of residents in a geographical location – can best determine what it is that they value. The values and priorities of communities share some commonalities, but also retain a distinctly local perspective. The process of coming together, of large groups of people who bring different ideas, different backgrounds, and differing life experiences all talking together about what matters to themselves, creates energy in the community that is inspiring to see. People reaching a shared consensus on their values, learning from each other, and finding surprising common ground, then can create statements of vision and values that can drive community change.

Then we invite the community, after they have defined these values and vision, to determine what they need to know to measure progress toward that vision. This is where we discover the useful metrics, those that are meaningful to the everyday community resident. This is where the constellations are created, to tell the stories that are most meaningful in describing their lives and their hopes and dreams. They – the community – engage in creating the vision and the indicators, and in so doing, they take ownership of the future of their community. I emphasize the importance of this process. Too often the policies and priorities for a community are imposed by others, governments or civic leaders.

When someone else defines the vision and the metrics, they are perceived to own the responsibility for achieving improvement in the measures. The residents of the community then assume the roles of spectator and complainer – it must be someone else’s duty to create the policies and programs that will increase my well-being, because they (the government, the financially powerful) decided what the future would be like. In contrast, a community that defines its own vision and determines its own measures, then also embraces accountability for achieving these goals.  Public and private institutions become partners in achieving the community vision, not solely responsible for societal well-being.

Judith Innes once said, The process of developing and selecting indicators is at least as important as publishing them. The process of debating the design of indicators shapes the players’ thinking about the policies. Agreement on indicators helps get agreement on policy.

This is not easy work, but it is critically important work.  This commitment to community engagement places the measures at the center of shared conversation, so that the public policy debates are about how to achieve the vision and how to use the data, rather than what should the goals of a particular administration be or whose numbers can be trusted. The shared experience creates opportunities for unusual and effective partnerships. And the data – and the values behind the data, and the stories told by the data – become an integral part of decision making.

In Jacksonville, Florida, we have had a generation of political leaders enter their political life with the indicators already there for them. Because the indicators are measured outside of government, they are able to transcend administrations and avoid becoming enmeshed in politics. Every year, we bring together a community review committee to examine what we are measuring, evaluate what is measured and the effectiveness and accessibility of the presentation, and determine priorities for community action. About every 10 years we engage in larger-scale community engagement process to re-examine our community values and the goals we are striving for as a community.

You can see the results of our work as we have envisioned what Jacksonville will look like by the year 2025, and see what we are measuring to hold ourselves accountable for reaching that vision. Over 16,000 people were part of that process, representing the broad diversity of our community, in race, gender, ethnicity, family income, education, age, and more. Together, they knew that their voices mattered in building community well-being, and that measurement was how we would know if we were successful in our community efforts.

Our vision is to be a place where people matter. And to do that, we need to focus our efforts on this combination of individual and societal well-being.

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Looking Forward to a New Year

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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on Monday, 26 August 2013
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JCCI Forward is gearing up for a new year of leadership development, community programming, and fun!

Through Forward, Jacksonville's young professionals and emerging leaders learn about our community, engage in problem solving, and act to make community change.
This is not your Mom or Dad's civic group. Want to learn how to make a difference in your hometown? ...then you are an emerging leader!
Forward is the ideal place to meet with city and community leaders, to develop your skills, and to build a network of friends and associates who share a passion for improving where you live, work and play.
We have a community reputation for getting people like you engaged with their peers and the existing leaders in our community! Check out calendar of events!
Currently, Forward's committees who are charged with planning the 2013-14 program are meeting. Want in? Contact Michelle today!

Here's a message from Forward's new 2013-2014 Executive Committee Chair, Leah Donelan: 

Hello Forward members, future Forward members, and all young professionals! 

I'm so honored to be kicking off this JCCI Forward year as chair.  I've chosen to make JCCI one of my primary volunteer commitments for the past five years.  This year, the excitement around JAX2025 gives our Forward year even more potential for fun, friendship, leadership development, and learning.

There are three big reasons to get involved in Forward this year:

1. It's always the right time to make Jacksonville the best place it can be

If living in a vibrant and successful city is important to you, join us at a Forward event!  You'll learn more about Jacksonville and understand exactly how to get involved in the areas that matter to you most.

2. You are responsible for being the best person you can be

We provide skill building and professional development opportunities especially for you.  They can help make you a better employee, a better volunteer, and a more well-rounded person.

3. Building your personal network is the best thing you can do for yourself

Meeting new people and forming authentic relationships – both for your professional and personal life – will give you new opportunities and is a ton of fun!  Forward is full of interesting, community-minded, diverse individuals just waiting to meet you.

We hope to see you at a Forward, JAX2025, or JCCI event very soon!

Leah Donelan

JCCI Forward Chair

2013-2014

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JAX2025 Chair Talk: Working Together for People Focus Task Force

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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on Monday, 19 August 2013
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The JAX2025 team is proud of the organizations across the community that are aligning their priorities with JAX2025 Targets and working to make Jacksonville a better city. As part of the Build It phase of the JAX2025 initiative, four new Focus Task Forces are forming to address how to begin ensuring success of some of the community-identified strategies. The first four topics are: Encouraging Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation, Working Together for People, Distinctive Neighborhoods, & Government Openness and Responsiveness. Each of the four Focus Task Forces have held their initial meetings, but new members are welcome to join. For a calendar of the meetings and to sign up to join one or more of the task forces, please click here.

JAX2025 Focus Task Force: Working Together for People
The Focus Task Force will center around the following strategies:

Diverse & Inclusive Community: Collapse the silos between organizations that are working on similar diversity issues

Chair: Kerri Stewart

What do you do from 9-5?

I am a management consultant, economic developer and lobbyist.

What do you do outside of work?

I love to be outdoors and I love to read.  My husband and I travel any chance we get.  We usually try to attend a sporting event wherever we go and sometimes – a lot of times – will fashion a trip around a sporting event (racing, golf, football, baseball, etc.).

How did you get involved with JAX2025?

I was originally asked to be a part of the steering committee and was happy to serve.  I was so impressed with the process and the hopeful for the prospect of a real, actionable plan, that I have continued to serve.  When I was approached about chairing the Diverse and Inclusive Community Task Force, I jumped at the chance.  In my 9 to 5 life I do a lot of ‘bringing disparate and alike groups together’ for the purpose of collapsing silos (management consulting), bringing common understanding (lobbying) and encouraging success/prosperity amongst all parties (economic development consulting). This seemed like a great for me to further serve the community.

Why did you step up to chair this Focus Task Force and what about the listed strategies excites you?

It is a challenge.  Discussions related to diversity and inclusion can easily devolve in to an unproductive and hurtful mess with no workable and scalable solutions being formed.  I am intrigued by other cities that I have visited that have started and continue to tackle these topics as a community.  Houston, Texas and Miami, Florida both come to mind.  I believe that Jacksonville is incredibly diverse and that it is not recognized as such by the citizens that live here or people outside of our borders.  I also believe that we are perceived, by many, to not be an inclusive City.  I hope to be a part of changing both of the perception and reality of these statements.  

Why do you think this particular Focus Task Force is necessary for our community?

For the reasons stated above.  We cannot become a top tier city until we address our own issues.  We must recognize who we have become as a city in terms of diversity and assess what we need to do to address our real and perceived issues with inclusion.

Why do you think JAX2025 is important for Jacksonville?

Like the Diverse and Inclusive Task Force, all of the task forces were born out of a massive amount of public input.  The citizens of Jacksonville told JCCI what their concerns were under the promise of action being taken to address these concerns.  It is our responsibility as community stakeholders to make this happen.  Only by addressing the issues important to the citizens of Jacksonville can Jacksonville become the City we all want and know it can be.

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We Need More of This

Posted by Laura Lane
Laura Lane
Laura is the Vice President at JCCI and has lived in Jacksonville since 1994. She is grateful to have worked a...
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on Friday, 16 August 2013
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Something momentous happened last week. The Jacksonville community wrapped its arms around a young woman, lifted her up, and trusted she has the potential for great things.

Her name is Biannela Susana, and is also known as Cristian Fernandez's mother.

The judge in her trial decided that Biannela needs immediate mental health counseling and that she must follow a plan that allows her to live at a domestic violence shelter-- Hubbard House-- and then at Community Connections, where she will re-build her life.

People living with a mental disorder, and especially those living with overwhelming trauma that disables them, often get caught up in the criminal justice system. When the disorder or condition gets so bad that he or she lands in jail, they've entered what people working in social services call the "deep end." Acting out in school and getting in trouble is not the deep end. Getting arrested and going to juvey is. The pool metaphor is apt because the deep end of a swimming pool is dangerous, and so is jail. You likely drown.

In the U.S., people with health insurance are, in general, able to access some mental health help when we need it-- whether it is counseling, an anti-depressant, or treatment for a drinking problem. However, people who don't have health insurance are less likely to find help.  Last week's decision to help Biannela was amazing because it flew in the face of our nation's general neglect and disdain for people who live with mental illness. We generally criminalize the mentally ill. Ben Warner, my colleague, showed me the chart below (click on the graph for source):

In Jacksonville, people without health insurance and living with chronic mental illness are worse off than most in the United States. That's because per person spending on public mental health services is lower here than in most cities in the U.S. We just don't prioritize taking care of people who lack health insurance and live with a mental illness.

However, our community has something other communities do not: homegrown solutions and sustained local philanthropy. Both Melissa Ross (on First Coast Connect) and Larry Hannan (in the Florida Times-Union) traced last week's decision back to a new organization in Jacksonville: the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. The Center was on the team supporting Biannela.

CEO and President of Delores Barr Weaver Center, Lawanda Ravoira, with Biannela Susana

What is unique about the Center is that it brings together a powerful triad of actions to solve the problem of girls entering the criminal justice system. The Center does research on the problem, develops programs in Jacksonville schools to address the problem, and at the same time, advocates for girls and women who might enter prison. Research informs programs and their experience with programs informs research. Advocacy for girls is not only about support for good policy and laws. They advocated for Biannela by working into the last step of her rehabilitation plan a job at the Center. As Melissa Ross pointed out, Biannela’s rehabilitation plan concludes with her becoming a survivor and then a leader. She will become an authority on how to protect and help women, and as a result, make many more families healthier.

Jacksonville is home to strong programs, policy, and advocacy informed by the specific conditions of girls who experience violence, develop behavioral and mental health disorders, and might get caught in the criminal justice system. PACE, which started in Jacksonville, is now a statewide network of juvenile justice programs reaching out to girls whose teen years begin much like Biannela's. 

We are fortunate to have the philanthropic commitment of Delores Barr Weaver and J. Wayne Weaver in Jacksonville; they have, over and over, made excellent investments in mental health services. And we are fortunate that the Women’s Giving Alliance has made community mental health the focus of their philanthropy. The team supporting Biannela also included the statewide group, The Children's Campaign. Read more here about efforts to improve mental health for everybody in Jacksonville, including a future JCCI inquiry.

Jacksonville is full of strong, caring, and empathetic impulses. We are a city with a heart and the smarts to innovate our systems for reaching out and improving lives. Last week’s news about Biannela confirms that Jacksonville is on the right track when it comes to caring for people and solving our community’s problems.

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JAX2025 Chair Talk: Government Openness & Responsiveness Focus Task Force

Posted by Daniel Austin
Daniel Austin
Communications Coordinator JCCI- Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Phone: 904.396.3052 ext. 309 Email: d...
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on Monday, 05 August 2013
in JAX2025 · 0 Comments

The JAX2025 team is proud of the organizations across the community that are aligning their priorities with JAX2025 Targets and working to make Jacksonville a better city. As part of the Build It phase of the JAX2025 initiative, four new Focus Task Forces are forming to address how to begin ensuring success of some of the community-identified strategies. The first four topics are: Encouraging Bicycle and Pedestrian TransportationWorking Together for PeopleDistinctive Neighborhoods, & Government Openness and Responsiveness. Each of the four Focus Task Forces have held their initial meetings, but new members are welcome to join. For a calendar of the meetings and to sign up to join one or more of the task forces, please click here.

JAX2025 Focus Task Force: Government Openness & Responsiveness
The Focus Task Force will center around the following strategies:

Exemplary Governance: Develop and publish performance measures for government functions, openly reporting on effectiveness and efficiency of local government

Exemplary Governance: Improve responsiveness and follow-through from local government on reported citizen concerns so that the public can more easily know the results of local government action

Chair: Cecil Williams

What do you do from 9-5? 

Two things – first, I am the Founder and Executive Director of Southern Food Policy Advocates (SFPA). SFPA’s vision is to be recognized as the leading advocacy organization in Florida and the southern United States in conducting research and formulating policies to address health and fiscal issues caused by unhealthy food, lack of nutritious food, the lack of physical activity, and other casual factors for obesity and obesity related diseases. Second, I am a Financial Advisor with Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial. The company is committed to helping people secure their financial futures, quality family life through local activities and member benefits for families, and by providing financial support for volunteer projects to help make a difference locally.

What do you do outside of work?

My 9-5 is obviously very consuming with a heavy focus on community involvement. However, I am active in my church’s prison ministry, a fitness nut, and a very good vegetarian cook.

How did you get involved with JAX2025?

The concept and plan were presented at a meeting I attended prior to the project beginning, and I was interested in contributing in some form. That led to attending the visioning meetings, and then volunteering in several capacities.

Why did you step up to chair this Focus Task Force and what about the listed strategies excites you?

With my nonprofit I obviously spend a lot time for with policymakers, so I have a comfort level in taking on role of chair (facilitator) and I believe that government has to be the key enabler of the entire JAX2025 project. The listed strategies excite me because of the focus on transparency and increasing citizen involvement.

Why do you think this particular Focus Task Force is necessary for our community?

The Constitution of the United States and of the State of Florida begins with the words, "We, the people..." because the people are the government. And it is time we all realized it. Unfortunately too many people abandon their role in ensuring that the structure of government operates to meet the needs of the people it’s there to function for. Not surprisingly during the visioning meetings this area of focus was not one that drew large numbers during breakout sessions. I am among those that believe only a private/government partnership can ensure the success and sustainability of JAX2025.

Why do you think JAX2025 is important for Jacksonville?

This is an opportunity for citizens to make choices in shaping the direction of our City by their voices and continued involvement. So we are engaged in shaping the future by our actions or inaction.  -“Destiny is not a matter of chance, but of choice. Not something to wish for, but to attain.”— William Jennings Bryan

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