Partnerships are fuel to drive us forward

Published 8:28 am Thursday, October 29, 2015

Author and award-winning social medial consultant Simon Mainwaring may not be a household name but his ideas on capitalism and economics certainly came close to home. The respected motivational speaker also hit the proverbial nail on the head when it comes to community partnerships.

“We need to develop and disseminate an entirely new paradigm and practice of collaboration that supersedes the traditional silos that have divided governments, philanthropies and private enterprises for decades and replace it with networks of partnerships working together to create a globally prosperous society,” Mainwaring said.

I am more convinced than ever that diverse partnerships — rather than relying on government to provide all essential services, although it has its role as well — will be the fuel for the engine that drives our communities forward.

Last weekend I had a front row seat to see just how well this can work at the YMCA’s fall festival event. But this was far more than just a small undertaking by one organization.

The YMCA did an excellent job of inviting organizations to help with the event that included bounce houses for children, balloon animals, snacks, activities and other fun activities.

But Y leaders realize they cannot do everything on their own and continued a partnership with the Niles District Library, which oversaw the hundreds of kids participating in its annual costume contest. The Niles Noon Optimist Club, which I am a part of, played a role by hosting our fourth annual Pumpkin Race. It was probably the best yet.

Then, just a few hours later, the Niles Main Street/Downtown Development Authority partnered with the businesses, the city and other organizations to host the safe trick-or-treat event that attracted more than a thousand people to Niles.

All these organizations worked together for common goals — providing family friendly fun for children and bringing people to downtown — even if that meant altering their own agendas or expectations. That is the true definition of collaboration and, honestly, is probably only the tip of the iceberg of what could be accomplished with more partnerships and support.

These great successes start with recognizing the hard work of all those already engaged in these community partnerships and then working to bring more people to the table. We hope to see other communities follow suit.

Fittingly for the Halloween season, it is “scary” what could be accomplished right here in southwest Michigan.


Michael Caldwell is the publisher of Leader Publications LLC. He can be reached at (269) 687-7700 or by email at