EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 27, 2008

Group rallies for ideas to improve city; Residents invited to share suggestions tomorrow

HAVERHILL - Would you be willing to help clean and renovate a city park or playground? Would signs directing tourists to various city landmarks be a good idea? What about a walking and cycling trail along the river?

If these are the kinds of things that get you fired up, then Team Haverhill wants to talk to you.

People who are interested in bettering the city will meet at one place and on one night to dream up ideas they hope will benefit the entire community over the next year or so, and even beyond.

Team Haverhill will host an evening of brainstorming tomorrow at 7 p.m. It's all about exploring opportunities, such as acquiring an abandoned railroad bed and turning it into a recreational trail, and meeting others with similar dreams or concerns for the city. The meeting will be at the Technology Center at Northern Essex Community College. Preregistration is required by e-mailing possibledreams@comcast.net.

Team Haverhill was formed in 2005 and is an independent, nonpartisan citizens action group that wants to play a leading role in the city's future.

Invitations to Monday's event were sent out to more than 150 leaders in various sectors of city life, but Alice Mann, co-chairwoman, and Tim Jordan, co-chairman, hope anyone with ideas to share will attend. More than 100 people replied to the invitation and plan to attend. They include Mayor James Fiorentini.

"It won't be the usual meeting," Mann said.

The format will be a world cafe:a type of community discussion used all over the globe, from third-world villages to large corporations, where guests converse at small tables with three or four other people about the topic at hand, while sharing refreshments.

"The community together has more wisdom than any one individual," Mann said. "We just have to talk in a different way."

The first part of the evening features small group conversation followed by open conversation where themes that emerged from each table will be discussed during large group conversation.

Jordan said that Team Haverhill already has some ideas of what it would like to accomplish in 2008, but that the group is looking for more ideas.

"We want to recheck the pulse of the city to learn what citizens would like to see happen this year," Jordan said.

Residents from all walks of life and positions in the city will be on an equal playing field during the brainstorming session. "Everyone's main role will be as a citizen, regardless of any other role they serve in the city," Mann said.

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