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Editor's Notes

Our Feature Story, and the Nature of Big Community Ideas

‘The stark reality of this kind of talk is that big ideas are easy, it’s the execution that’s hard’

Nick Meyer, photos by Tina Ecker |

The now-vacant Mount Washington Sanitarium in Eau Claire.
The now-vacant Mount Washington Sanitarium in Eau Claire.

If there’s one thing every community needs to thrive, it’s big ideas. With such ideas come the usual buzz phrases – grabbing the hearts and minds of a local populace. Words like “bold vision,” “entrepreneurial mindset,” and “blue-sky thinking.” These sentiments can rightfully stir up talk of what great things could be possible in any organization, from a small business to a large city. For better or worse, I’ve invoked many of these kinds of phrases myself over the years, and you’ll likely hear me do so again. But the stark reality of this kind of talk is that big ideas are easy, it’s the execution that’s hard – and what separates dreams from reality.

But the stark reality of this kind of talk is that big ideas are easy, it’s the execution that’s hard – and what separates dreams from reality.

NICK MEYER

founder and publisher, volume one

On page 32 of our latest print issue issue you’ll find a feature story by longtime contributor Ken Szymanski on the considerably ambitious Mount Washington Sanatorium renovation project being undertaken in the Shawtown neighborhood of Eau Claire. New developer Ethan Henderson and partners are planning to revive the massive, decaying structure by injecting 65 apartments and a handful of business operations, including the headline-grabbing “roof-top restaurant,” which, if successful, would have sweeping views of the Chippewa River from atop the steep hill there. It’s all an admirable endeavor to be sure, but one that certainly comes with its fair share of skeptics. And for plenty of good reasons, frankly.

While time will tell if the execution will be there for this big idea, one thing for me is certain – I hope the audaciousness of Henderson’s idea can help fuel those of others throughout the Valley. Because a community’s response to these kinds of efforts sets the tone – for not only what ideas we step forward with, but for what ideas we can actually make happen.