Best of the Valley 2010
The Best of the Chippewa Valley 2010, An Introdction
Thousands of you voted, we’ve carefully assembled the results, and you may wonder why it all matters ...
Every decent-sized city has a publication that does a “Best Of” issue – from Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle to Minneapolis, Madison, and Timbuktu. (Seriously. Don’t laugh. Timbuktu is famous for such highly contested categories as Best Ancient Greek Text and Best Rock-Salt Miner.) And when we were checking out other lists over the past year, we realized that the Best of the Chippewa Valley has something unique.
The purpose of many “Best Of” issues is to highlight an area’s businesses, people, events, groups, et al. This adds to an area’s sense of pride, gives credit where credit’s due, and allows visitors a quick summary of what the area has to offer. But the Best of the Chippewa Valley isn’t just the best of what we have, but also the best of what we want.
A quick perusal of this issue will show you categories like “Biggest Thing We Should Make Happen Soon,” “Kind of Eatery/Bar We Most Need,” and “Structure We’d Like to See Erected.” Most other Best Ofs don’t have these kinds of categories.
Are we pointing out this disparity to toot our own horn? A little bit. It just goes to show our desire to see the Valley continue to grow and progress. But these kinds of categories mean more than that. They give the general populace a way to weigh in, and we all hope that someone (a developer, an entrepreneur, a city official, etc.) is paying attention to the results.
Last year you voted for Indian as the most needed style of restaurant, and voila! We got one. Now it’s time for French, last year’s second place finisher and this year’s winner. In 2007 people wanted more arts and entertainment venues, and voila! Now we have Tangled Up in Hue, Infinitea, Bottle & Barrel, Grand Little Theatre, The Oxford, Gallery 111, blues shows in Owen Park, and the list goes on. Interesting, but related? Perhaps not, but who knows?
Another trend to point out is that, in the first year of the poll (2007), downtown revitalization showed up all over the place and creamed the competition (best idea that can’t get off the ground, biggest thing we should make happen soon). This year it was nominated (by readers) in only one category, and it barely edged out “Get a grocery store downtown” for a second place finish. Could that mean we’re making progress?
Now, it’s true that we haven’t seen an all-purpose arena built, or a Home Depot to compete with Menards, but there’s reason to believe other top finishers over the past few years (develop the riverfront, high-speed rail) have a shot at happening in the not-too-distant future.
So, we’re not so much alleging a causal relationship where things appear in Volume One’s “Best Of” and they suddenly appear on the streets of our community the following year. Man, we wish it was that easy. We’re saying it’s important for everyone to talk about their ideas and plant the seeds in our collective consciousness whenever possible (but that doesn’t mean they have to show up in print somewhere). We simply hope Volume One, and our “Best Of,” can serve to elevate the community’s own ideas and move us all a little closer to what we want this place to be. So thanks to everyone who participated in the conversation. The pages listed on your left lay out what you had to say.