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Showing posts from October, 2014

Research, Research, and Yes, Research

These past few weeks have been consumed with research, research, and more research.

Effective economic development relies on data. The quantitative facts help tell a community's story. Just the facts, no opinions.

In my years of research, I have come to find these three sources as the MOST reliable for finding community data. Fortunately, all three are free!

If you ever find yourself in need of data to run reports, for marketing purposes, or to find trends, I highly recommend the following three. They are ranked for wealth of information, not user-friendliness. The most reliable and most thorough source out there, Bureau of Labor Statistics, also very reliable and daily updated.City or Local Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)- City or County CAFR's are often overlooked gems of historical economic, financial, and demographic data. There are many others too such as your state's Department of Revenue and your state's Department of Tran…

Thank You

I was at Ingles today buying a few groceries after work. I went through the self-checkout lane. After purchasing my items, the screen read bright letters "THANK YOU."

"Thank You." Two words can go a very long way.

It is an expression of gratitude. Most of the time, it costs almost nothing, but it's a deposit of everything.

A simple "thanks" goes further than saying nothing at all. If attitude is everything, then an attitude of gratitude is everything x 100.

"Thank You" is a bridge-builder. There are no limits to where manners and appreciation for others can take you.

In fact, it is so important that we're teaching my nephew at an early age.

Enjoy the Video.

Leadership is...

Leadership is costly.

Yes, there is the constant decision-making element. Yes, there are the time demands. Yes, there are days when the "to-do" list doesn't get done to put out immediate fires.

Leadership is demanding.

That, too, is the nature of it. Leaders, at times, have to do what others won't. Leadership is dirty work. It is. There is no armor shining. No time for it. The greatest leaders serve with humility.

Leadership is servanthood.

Leadership is all about others. Oftentimes serving to the point of exhaustion. Leadership is taxing, testing, and tiring. It is not for the faint of heart.

But, at the end of day, leadership is worth it.

To see the lives of others are improved. To see a goal accomplished that makes others better off. To build trust, relationships, and build confidence in others is worth the mental back-and-forth that goes in the decision-making process.

Leadership is a blessing.

The Voices of Lee

The Voices of Lee landed in Dalton, GA today.

They were our special guests at Community Fellowship Church. And they were beyond amazing!!!

This is the same group of singers that sang at the President's Inauguration in 2012 and all over the world.

We were blessed to witness a display of tonal accuracy, open and closed voicings, high and low pitches, and 8-voice harmonies all singing gloriously about Christ.

They sang passionately about His glory and His grace.

I was fortunate to accompany them on the piano during an intimate moment of worship.

The church, the community, and many visitors joined us for this beautiful gathering to magnify God.

I can only imagine what Heaven may sound like. I certainly heard angelic voices today.

Clink the link to watch some of my footage of them.

Music with Compassion

The music program of the church can be an effective tool to help meet people's needs.

Music, like its Creator, transcends age, sex, and status. The choir, especially, is about the only ministry where teens, seniors, singles, widows, and the married join in a united effort. As opposed to other church functions that tend to be segmented: youth ministry, singles ministry, married couples fellowship, etc.
With none of these barriers to entry, us music minsters should welcome those with interest to participate.
The music department is also the only place where newcomers can contribute immediately. 
Taking the come-all nature of music, it is critical that we ministers of music serve with compassion.
We must welcome the hurting, the sick, the confused. 
Leading with compassion must be our intent.

Where Does Planning Come From?

Where did city, urban, and regional planning come from???
The American Planning Association points planning's origins to 5 root causes:
Aesthetics Roots and the City Beautiful Movement- The City Beautiful Movement began in the 1800's and it is exactly what its name suggests. In the 1800's, cities and towns were not built with aesthetics in mind. Most thought how a city looked was not the role of government. The City Beautiful Movement traces its beginnings to the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 when a large portion of the fairgrounds were transformed into a "White City" showcasing architecture and landscaping. That thought process transferred to a macro level sparking citizens to ask why that same concept couldn't be applied, citywide.Civil Engineering and Public Health Concerns- During the industrial era, American cities were filthy and crowded. Water was contaminated and sewage was not treated leading to numerous water-borne and insect-bred diseases. Instal…

Post-Colonial Sanitation Needs Helped Establish Planning

Much of planning and zoning as we know today was birthed out of the need for urban sanitation.

In the 19th century, sewer and waste water treatment were non-existent. Additionally, urban areas experienced unhealthy population densities and overcrowding was everywhere. That made the way for water-borne diseases like cholera and typhoid fever to be major killers. In addition to insect-borne illnesses like malaria.

The solution: a water carriage sewer system.

To build a comprehensive sewer system for a city requires large-scale planning. Since such system operates by gravity, a survey of the topography of the city must be considered in the layout of streets. Future growth needs, mapping houses and largely dense areas, and traffic flows are also needed.

All of this requires planning.

Not saying that post-colonial era sanitation needs were the sole impetus for city planning, but it certainly led us to recognize the need.

Leading Praise and Worship

There is nothing like leading others in praise and worship.
Taking others into a place of intimacy with God where we all praise and speak highly of our God and King.
Helping usher in God's presence before the preached word comes forth.
It is not a ritual. It is not ceremonious. It is not just another part of service. 
Praise and worship is a privilege. God's people realize their inferiority before the Superior One.
I do not claim to be the greatest pianist or vocalist in the world, but it is a privilege to use what God has given me to make melodies and songs all speaking highly of Him.
Then, to look into the crowd and see hands and voices lifted. It is a blessing.

Leadership and Humility

Leadership is humble servanthood. A leader serves others. Humility puts others above yourself. Humility is not pride or arrogance.
Humility is inferiority before Christ. 
An arogant, conceited, know-it-all attitude is not leadership. It is foolery. An arrogant "leader" is his/her own demise.
Leaders respect the intelligence, experiences, and opinions of others. Leadership is not saying "yes" to every recommendation, suggestion, or idea. It is a gently firm respect and high regard for others. 
Leadership is steering others toward a goal. 
These qualities are noticeable and cultivated over time. Leadership does not come by position. Leadership is not developed overnight.
Leadership is only for the humble, the diligent, the servants. 
The way up is down... "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."- Luke 14:11.
"When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom."- Proverbs 11:2

Data Drives Decisions

A large part of economic development is marketing. In other words: helping businesses understand why they should invest in your community. Why should they relocate their corporate office in your town? Why should they hire 50 people in your city? Why should they open a regional office or a large plant in your area?
Economic developers answer those questions for their respective communities. 
And, as is true for any marketing, you need supporting data. Without data, everything is mere opinion. Baseless and unfounded.
Let the numbers tell the story.
Key data on demographics, labor force, education, the marketplace, and types of businesses should be available and visible.
From my meetings with corporate executives, site selectors, and real estate executives this one fact rings true: Data Drives Decisions.

The Heart of Gospel. The Art of Jazz. Part 1

Gospel music is effective for its message. Jazz is effective for its music. The quintessential song is birthed when the heart of gospel and the art of jazz blend.

When produced together, both remain true to their form: 100% Gospel and 100% Jazz.

Gospel + Jazz is arguably the most beautiful combination in all of music. And, quite frankly, the resulting sound is unique and not recorded enough.

But, to illustrate what happens when the two marry, below are 5 songs I strongly recommend you listen to. They are listed in alphabetical order based on the artist's first name.

"Carry On"- Babbie Mason"Daniel and the Dangerous Dudes"- Carman"Biggest, Greatest Thing"- Mary Mary"I've Got Life"- Take 6"Never Alone"- Yolanda Adams