A lot of thoughtful comments have come out of the recent discussions with the Hometown Greencastle Alliance about the future of Greencastle.
"I think people wanted to talk about our community," Alliance member Ken Eitel said on the day following a public forum at Greencastle Middle School.
"I think they talked about what they loved, what they're disappointed in, what they'd like to see. I think it's very important to get out into civil forums and talk to each other."
Eitel estimated that 120-150 people participated in the target group sessions this week, showing that the Greencastle public is interested in the future direction of the community.
It became apparent to him, Eitel said, that long-time residents and business people need to build bridges with those starting out and trying to raise their own standard of living. Too often, he said, people continue to look to their leaders to solve local problems, when it's really up to the public to solve them.
Among the public forum issues raised Thursday evening was a focus on the education of youth in Greencastle -- the high quality of the school system and how that should be marketed to young families looking to relocate.
Several residents pointed to successful adults who had their start in Greencastle. Others also pointed out that while the high school-age residents all seem eager to leave the city and get into the world beyond Putnam County, as they get ready to settle down, they are likely to look toward their hometown as an option.
While employment opportunities were identified as a major factor that draws new residents to the community, the group also noted that a larger variety of jobs would add to the community.
Many people "follow the money" when they change jobs, resident Ron Clearwater pointed out.
"If the opportunities are not here and they can't make the money, they will go elsewhere. We need to take a look at what we have. We don't have much," he said.
Economic development was a recurring theme, as was community job fairs and career days for younger people to learn about future job options in the community while still in school.
Recreation and leisure activities also received some discussion. People want places to go, and many would enjoy being able to walk downtown to shop, Joanne Haymaker pointed out. Attracting some major chains to open small outlets in the downtown area would boost the foot traffic around the courthouse square, she said, while making people feel there is a reason to live in the city.
The ideas presented during Thursday's forum, as well as the comments from the target groups, will be developed into a strategy to not only market Greencastle as an attractive place to live and work, but to set goals for community improvement.
"It's to be a product that approaches this with a new set of glasses," Eitel said. "It's to be more than a slogan or a logo."
The Hometown Alliance goal is to have that plan announced around the first of September.