Your Story Made Here: Our Story Workshops

October 8th, 2014

News Coverage:

Your Story Made Here: Our Story Workshops

By Melissa Long- 21Alive
By Ian Hoover- 21Alive

October 8, 2014 Updated Oct 8, 2014 at 2:51 PM EDT

For the past several weeks, we've been telling you about a series of workshops being held all across the ten counties that make-up Northeast Indiana.

The workshops are part of a project called "Our Story", the goal of which is to develop a unified and compelling picture of what makes this region unique and to market it to the rest of the country.

For this week's "Your Story Made Here", I thought I'd share with you what happens at these workshops and maybe inspire you to help tell "Our Story".

We are in Bluffton, where a good sized group of business and civic leaders and other just plain folks are gathered to share ideas about our region's personality

Tyler Borders says: "So if you back way up…up into the clouds and you look down at the region, as compared to the nation, we can find a personality that everyone else can begin to understand for Northeast Indiana. You see it in places like Palo Alto, San Francisco, New York, right? Vegas. Very discernable personalities and we all know them for that and we can do that here. That's not impossible.

Really? Can Northeast Indiana become known for something other than corn and soybeans? And Johnny Appleseed? It was amazing how easily the participants in this workshop zeroed in on the region's strengths….and weaknesses.

We were told to think of the region as a person….someone right there in the room with us.

Bluffton Mayor Ted Ellis: "Interestingly enough it's kind of uncovered a need that we all felt and that was the need to put what we are into words. We all know who we are, and what we are, but we often don't express that very well and this is a good exercise for us."

It was fun looking at all of the options and discussing the personality of this theoretical "person" with the rest of the table. It was revealing to see that so many of us came up with the same words to describe Northeast Indiana.

Kayleen Reusser:"Stable, traditional, friendly, big-hearted."

Ted Ellis:"I chose words like down to earth, practical and caring."

There were several exercises we went through to narrow down the list of adjectives and the kind of image we felt fits our region. We also had a discussion about some things that need improvement. "Inclusiveness was one of those.

Tyler Borders says:" You might say 'Hey I wish there were things we were achieving, portraying but it's not happening yet and you wish it was and it's authentic and could actually be achieved. Tell us those things."

Kayleen:" I believe we need to get the word out about how great our state is, because it IS a great state. It's a great place to raise kids."

Ted Ellis: "It's great to have all of us together and thinking positively and this is something we don't often do, is to focus on what's good for the region.

A mobile display has results from all ten counties and it is fascinating to see how people view our area. I think it's safe to say….everyone things we are just about the friendliest place on earth!

The first phase is over and workshops are being held for the second phase…which will focus on refining the message we want to send about ourselves, those start this week.

The process depends upon everyday citizens taking part. This is not just for community big shots. We want the teacher, the factory worker, the homemaker, the small business owner…every race and creed.

Because "Our Story" is Your Story.

If you are unable to attend any of the workshops in your area, you will still be able to lend your voice to the "Our Story" project.

There will be an online workshop available for folks who would like to share their thoughts and ideas about our region. There will be prizes for people who complete the online workshop, including an i-pad mini, Vera Bradley luggage and tools from do-it-best. The place to go to take part in this project is

And if you'd like to learn more about our partners in the your story made here project, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Elevate Ventures and Northeast Indiana Works, just go to our website and click on the" Your Story Made Here" tab.