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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Results from the event will be discussed at Team Haverhill's next monthly meeting on Feb. 11.
In 2007, Team Haverhill co-hosted two mayoral candidate forums, and in partnership with Let's Embrace Arts and Preservation, it completed six murals that are on display in the downtown.
"Toward the end of last year, as we celebrated the projects we completed, we realized that it was time to open the doors again to the wider community," Mann said. "That's how Team Haverhill began. And before we crystalized projects for 2008, we wanted to invite the community in."
Team Haverhill's monthly meetings, usually held in the Pentucket Bank Community Room on Merrimack Street, are open to the public.
Team Haverhill's ideas include:
Phase 2 of the mural project: Coordinated by the after-school Discovery Club program. Students will learn about the city's history and, with help from a professional artist, they will create three new murals to be installed somewhere in the downtown.
Directional signs for the downtown: Creating signs that direct visitors to particular sites. The signs would be posted at the city's gateways and other key spots.
Rehabilitating city parks and playgrounds: A short-term project that would require volunteer help from residents and local businesses.
Bookstore in the downtown: An idea that has been talked about as being a good thing for the city.
Converting an abandoned railroad bed to a recreational trail: A multi-use trail for walkers, cyclists and others to use; would follow the abandoned railroad tracks on the Bradford side of the Merrimack River.