Most of us know all too well the frustration felt when interlopers implement changes that don't work.
It can happen when corporate bigwigs push an initiative to a local office, when relatives meddle in a family's affairs, or when "experts" descend on a community and seek to heal what ails it.
Such externally motivated change doesn't feel good to those who are being "fixed," and the measures rarely have the intended consequences. Internally generated solutions usually gain better buy-in and have a greater degree of success.
That's why the Sweet 16 Neighborhood initiative underway to improve quality of life in the west side of Anderson is so promising. The effort is guided by an organization called Prosperity Indiana, which "engages local leadership to generate public and private investment," according to its website. But a committee that includes local residents has been steering the initiative.
The effort began in August 2016, and an update meeting was conducted May 4 at the Anderson Impact Center.
The initiative was named Sweet 16 because the 46016 ZIP code encompasses the neighborhood. The idea is to come up with a 10-year strategic plan to make the area, which had been hit hard by tough economic conditions, a better place to live.
As a starting point, residents were interviewed one-on-one to share their concerns about the neighborhood and their ideas for improving it. Now, working committees will be formed to explore topics such as youth opportunities, education, job training, housing, infrastructure, crime, drug abuse, business development and transportation.
While some people might demand immediate action instead of meetings and discussion, these are important steps in the process of improving the area. Taking a long-range view is also a key. Many of the community's problems are complex and will take time to resolve.
When neighborhood residents are empowered, it works out better for everyone in the long run.