My City Summit – Building Fort Wayne One Brick At A Time

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Rome wasn’t built in a day – a metaphor known and repeated by many to emphasize the idea that good things take time. Well, to give you some perspective – Rome is over 2770 years old and Fort Wayne is 226 years old. Modern Rome is home to 80 fountains, 900 churches, 2.8 million people (city limits), and the smallest independent state in the world – the Vatican. Fort Wayne is home to over 360 churches, 2,800 acres of parks and playgrounds, 267,000 people (city limits) and is the birthplace of the NBA. 

Now, I know what you are thinking – how can Fort Wayne possibly size up to Rome? Putting these cities side by side is not meant to display a deficit. Instead, it is meant to showcase the potential. In fact, author and entrepreneur, James Clear, wants us to remember the other side of the story: “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour. Rome is just the result, the bricks are the system.”  And Fort Wayne is no different. 

Over the last decade, Fort Wayne’s revitalization can be attributed to countless bricks, including (but not limited to): a minor league ballpark, new businesses, philanthropists, green space and trails, community events, art projects, musical talents, visionary leadership and more. What may not be as obvious is the incubation of the ideas that create the vision which then become the reality. My City Summit is one of Fort Wayne’s best incubators.

Hosted by the Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana organization, the My City Summit event is where new ideas are created, initiatives are formed and innovation takes off.  This year’s impactful community-wide event, entitled Build the Fort, will bring together students, professionals, and organization to build emerging leaders, build better connection, and build more reasons to stay and build on the momentum we have today. 

This is not the first My City Summit that is set to make waves. In fact, what you may not know is the My City Summit event has served as a key catalyst for a variety of well-known and celebrated ideas, policy changes, event formation, and funding direction.  Here are a few “bricks” that have been laid from past My City Summit events (some you may recognize): 

  • The City’s First Film Series: The Living Fort Wayne Film Series started in the summer of 2014 after the idea to create a series of outdoor movies from the 2014 My City Summit. Now, it is run by Riverfront Fort Wayne and it has grown into something bigger that the community embraced.  
  • Fort Wayne Art Projects: Created from the 2014 My City Summit, Creative Class helps emerging leaders have a better understanding of the impact that arts organizations have in our community, and how they, as emerging leaders, can impact our community’s major nonprofit arts organizations. Arts United and YLNI designed this series to help people take the first step in Fort Wayne’s popular art community. 
  • “Weather the Fort” Event: This event started from an idea at the 2015 My City Summit with the belief that Fort Wayne – a booming city with a rich history of festivals – needed something to look forward to in the long days of winter. What a better way to celebrate winter in Downtown Fort Wayne with arts, music, food and fun? Weather the Fort, created by John Felts and Ted Pappert is an outdoor winter festival with live music, ice carvers, fire dancers, fireworks, food and many other activities.
  • Clyde Theater Getting Regional Funding: The 2015 My City Summit brought awareness to a music venue project already underway in the region. The Summit sparked additional attention towards needed funding for the midsized music venue, thus boosting the region’s talent retention and keeping talented artists here. This venue is now known as The Clyde Theater.
  • The Landing Redevelopment: Leaders and supporters from the 2017 My City Summit put energy behind the need for funding of The Landing redevelopment project. This My City Summit was instrumental in determining what The Landing would become, which included the decision to close the street to vehicle traffic. 
  • Inclusivity Pledge for the Northeast Indiana Region: Conversations during the 2017 My City Summit focused diversity and inclusion in order to make a statement about northeast Indiana to the national community.  After the Summit event, one of the first undertakings was creating an inclusivity pledge that rallied regional businesses around the common goal of a welcoming, inclusive environment. Since then, over 50 of the region's largest employers have signed it, including Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. 

In the words of James Clear, “There’s nothing necessarily impressive about laying a brick. It is not a fantastic amount of work. You may not get applauded for it. But laying a brick every day, year after year? That is how you build an empire.”

This year’s My City Summit is set to take stage on March 26 at Purdue Fort Wayne with keynote speaker Krish Dhanam, one of two executives coaches trained by Zig Ziglar. The event is designed for a diverse group age group with content and additional speakers that will appeal to college students, young leaders, community leaders and business owners alike. 

What will you help Fort Wayne build next at the 2020 My City Summit? 

For more information and tickets, please visit: www.ylni.org/my-city-summit. Early bird pricing ends on March 1.

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