I’ve just gotten back from an amazing brainstorming session with about sixty people, and my mind is abuzz with ideas, so you’ll have to forgive any lack of cogency as I spill out my enthusiasm here on my little blog.
Tonight there was a meeting held at the Kenmare Bay Hotel to discuss what the Kenmare community needs as a town in the modern age. The session was spearheaded by the Chamber of Commerce, but there were lots of people there (myself included) who aren’t Chamber members. The meeting was broken into tables of about 10 people each, and we talked through three key topics, trying to generate more than just a list of complaints. I’ll go through what our own table discussed, and then what the broader consensus was.
We began with the subject of Business. Right away we talked about how Kenmare is beholden to the tourism cycles, and has no defining industry or stand-out interest. We agreed that putting Kenmare on the map could begin by attracting a large company or niche industry to our locale, be it an IT firm, a film cooperative, a furniture factory, or anything else. We also talked about creating a Learning centre where all ages, but especially youths, could come to learn about a myriad of subjects, taught by local experts or others brought in, but in skills and crafts that would inspire them to stay in Kenmare and setup their own businesses.
All this was grand, but the question we asked was, who would be organising and planning and raising funds to put this project together?
Next we talked about Tourism. As positive a bunch as we were, we proceeded to list so many things that are wrong with Kenmare’s tourism system, that its a wonder we survive the summers! The first key point was that the town lacks an official website, and the information on the web is too scattered to be of use. I, of course, have my own plans to change that, with the impending relaunch of Kenmare.com . The second key point was that getting physically to Kenmare is not very easy. From once a day buses, to arduous drives to get here, to lack of cycling lanes, Kenmare isn’t easy to reach. The last point was to do with how visitors get their information once they arrive, and what system needs to be in place for the better distribution of said information, be it the Tourism office or a website.
Again, wonderful discussion, but how do we actually make changes in this area and who leads the way? It is the Chamber of Commerce? Or something new?
Last, we discussed the Community. Here we got into the details. The Chamber of Commerce, we decided, is not enough. It represents only a small portion of the community, and it doesn’t have the resources to act as we need it to for the town. We thought of all the other groups that exist in Kenmare, the B&B owners, the GAA members, the Parent Teacher Association, the Carnegie Arts Centre, The Chamber itself. They all have their own interests and ideas. What was needed was a central group that would take their ideas and put them into action.
What is needed is a Kenmare Community Alliance. A group that meets once a month, with very little formal structure, just people that have something to contribute, and spokespeople from each of the smaller community groups we have. The first order of action would be to setup a website (and someone to maintain it) that will serve to inform the community as to the daily and weekly affairs of the town, something that can be definitively trusted to provide up to date and accurate information. The concept is simple, but much more effective than trying to dump the entire workload on the Chamber of Commerce.
The room at large was perhaps not as enthusiastic about this as our table was, but the need for some change is clear, given that most of the work in organising the various festivals and parades and fundraisers has been falling on the shoulders of only one or two people. The next step is to meet again in four weeks time and decide on what the Alliance will be called, who will work to set things up, and how it will function.
You’re welcome and encouraged to attend, so watch this space for news and updates.
I’ll close by saying that I was so glad to be at that meeting tonight, to participate in a fascinating discussion on how we can make our town a better place, and to realize that there are a number of ways that I can help, and that I very much look forward to the next meeting.