Hope in Johnstown

What is Vision 2025, and Why are You Here?

Vision 2025 is a framework that has identified three focus areas that Johnstown must improve in order to reinvent itself as a vibrant mid-sized city. These focus areas are economy (Vibrant and Open Local Economy), environment (Life-Sustaining Landscapes), and civic engagement (Strong Sense of Community).

The Vision 2025 Framework was a plan developed by The Remaking Cities Institute of Carnegie Mellon University that was released to the public on October 15, 2015. The final report was prepared by a team of scholars lead by architect Stephanie Danes of CMU. The plan can be accessed on this website.

However, Vision 2025 as a movement of social change is a community redevelopment process that is much further reaching than what was produced by CMU. Vision 2025 is a community-driven, grassroots approach to revitalizing Johnstown’s natural and built environments, economic sectors, and civic engagement realms. Those are three ‘circles’ that Carnegie Mellon identified as the most crucial areas that Johnstown must improve. For each circle, all members of the public who wish to join the Vision 2025 process are invited to propose project ideas for revitalization efforts in and around Johnstown.

Tying those three circles together is a fourth and central circle, ‘good governance’ of the framework. A Visioning Committee has formed that is composed of community leaders, and its role is to support the other three circles by providing support for projects as needed in the form of connections to human expertise and resources, information sharing, communications capacity, and coordination.

Our goal is that CMU’s involvement was the first step of a long and fruitful process for Greater Johnstown. The Visioning Committee’s belief is that our community is on the right track, and we’re going to succeed in revitalizing Johnstown in a logical, thoughtful, and transparent way.

Many people have visions for Johnstown and hope for what our community can and will become. Dozens of people within the business community, nonprofit sector, and public policy realm have stepped forward to offer project ideas within these areas. Capture teams are already underway to achieve goals, and the framework provides for a never-ending, open-ended process of community revitalization. Moving forward, regular meetings will occur for each circle in order to move projects forward, share breakthroughs, and develop new project ideas.

One of the people who have expressed hope for Johnstown is Tasha Adams, and her story very succinctly and thematically ties all of Vision 2025’s goals together. Tasha is responsible for Development and Media at Alleghenies Unlimited Care Providers, and she is the Co-founder and Curator of You in Flood City, an organization that aims to provide information to the public about events and happenings around town.

On Wednesday, October 14th at the Johnstown City Council’s monthly session, Tasha spoke in front of Council and petitioned them to allow for a ‘Little Red Mailbox’ to be placed at Point Park, at the confluence of the Stonycreek and Little Conemaugh Rivers. She spoke with an eloquence and passion that many in Johnstown have. We’ve always been a great and prideful community, and hope is something that we often wear on our sleeves.

Our immigrant forebearers who worked in the mines and mills hoped for a better future for their children. After our floods, we hoped — and achieved — city rebirth. Today, we hope for economic diversification, renewal of our city’s urban and natural landscapes, and strengthening of our civic bonds.

Tasha’s message is what will kick off this blog, and the following words are hers.

 

 

“My name is Tasha Adams. I am in charge of Development and Media at Alleghenies Unlimited Care Providers, a local nonprofit, where we assist and empower individuals to remain independent in their own homes. AUCP strives to provide inspiration, inclusion, and hope to people of all abilities.

“This past July, when researching new ways to spread hope, I stumbled upon a wonderful concept that originated in North Carolina and I decided to reach out to the originator, Sue Goodrich. Sue established the Little Red Mailbox as a place of peace, hope, guidance, and acceptance. The thought was originally born from a place of despair, after the passing of her mother. Sue told me she was having a hard time and wanted to really reach out to people.

“With the city’s approval, she placed the mailbox at the Glenmere public beach access in the Outer Banks of NC. The mailbox has the words “leave a note of hope” painted on the front, and inside, you’ll find a journal and two pens.

“Since it has been erected, now over a year ago, the mailbox has become very popular; several journals have been filled with entries of joy, sadness, wishes, and sometimes-just quotes. Some draw pictures and some get creative, leaving small gifts for others. The City has since re-named the beach access- “Hope Access”.

“Sue mentioned to me, “In all of its time so far, not one person has at all violated the property.” I was pretty surprised, but she assured me it is because angels are watching over it.

“I spoke to her a few times about my idea to bring the mailbox to Johnstown as a “sister-box”. “It will be like hope is spreading and Johnstown is the very first location,” I explained. I informed her of the passion here; the dedication. How we recently won Hockeyville, USA and not-so-recently became the official home of AAABA due to our small-town passion. How we have had floods engulf our city, yet we’ve re-built no matter how devastating. And how regardless of the occasion, there are people who come out to events, big and small, to cheer on fellow neighbors.

“Sue had our mailbox painted by her same artist and even scripted on the back “Mailbox #2- Johnstown, PA”. I have been contemplating, since even before reaching out to her, wondering about the best place to erect the mailbox. I had a few locations in mind, but felt the best would be the garden at Point Park; the look-out where the Little Conemaugh and the Stonycreek meet. Front row seats to the historical Stone Bridge, the Point Stadium, PNG Park, and the Inclined Plane.

“The Point Park represents many things: history, dedication, love, and community. In my eyes, it truly displays the essence of Johnstown, past, present, and future. It is accessible to people of all abilities and it is an ideal location regarding both Johnstown-natives attending downtown events, as well as visitors just passing through.

“I attended the October City Council meeting where I spoke about the mailbox and was granted unanimous permission to erect it in the city garden at Point Park this coming Spring 2016. Carlos Gunby, City Manager, explained that bringing a sense of hope to the community is important and he believes this would be a great feature.

“The mailbox will be the community’s mailbox. I want friends and neighbors to recognize that it is something special for this city; serving as a beacon of peace, hope, and inspiration. A place for people to share their stories.

“I recently attended Lift Johnstown’s Vision 2025 event, where Stefani Danes of the Pittsburgh Remaking Cities Institute and so many others spoke about all of the beauty and potential Johnstown has to offer. One of the things Ms. Daines said was “Everyone has a contribution to make; trust them and let them be accountable.” Of course the angels will be watching over it, but it’s our community members who truly have a say whether or not the mailbox is enjoyed and respected.

“Sue shared with me that before her mother passed she had said “reach out to others when you feel sad. It’s amazing how much better you will feel.” That is the exact significance of the mailbox; a place where people, of all walks of life, can reach out to each other, equally.”

Johnstown’s Little Red Mailbox can be viewed here.

The original Little Red Mailbox can be viewed here.

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