Welcome to ‘somewhere’. My name is Cornelia Miller Rutherford and this is the first post for the Phoenix Event Alliance. The ‘journey’ is the development of the Common Ground Event Park and will involve sharing ideas for how to use the park and suggestions on how to get over the myriad hurdles we will certainly face along the way. This blog will be a conduit of information and I’m looking forward to spending a little time with you every few weeks as we create something truly amazing. Together.
The founders of the Phoenix Event Alliance each came to the table with a dream. Not just any dream but a BIG vision; the kind of vision that most people would call a pie in the sky notion. Each dream was different yet blended with the others in unexpected ways. Each person came on board willing to do whatever it takes to bring this collective dream to fruition knowing the road would be rough, it wouldn’t – couldn’t – happen quickly and the believers few and far between. What was really amazing was how the dreams of these individuals seamlessly combined to create the final vision. Even more unbelievable was that everyone shared a desire to improve the quality of life of some of our most forgotten members of society: our special needs young adults.
When I started talking to people about creating a central event location with educational, athletic and cultural arts activities, EVERYONE thought it was a great idea but NOBODY wanted to be a part of the work. I pitched this idea over and over, searching for people with vision who were not afraid of putting in some sweat equity.
It was a funny process because after months of striking out I met Vilma Gil, a talented actress, singer and choreographer. She said – and I’ll never forget this – “You just showed me what I never knew I always wanted. Let’s do it.” Then Carson Sams came along with his dream of a big blacksmith forge. I said ‘Dream bigger” and he did with a concept for preserving and teaching hand craft skills before they’re forgotten forever. Emily Whittacre saw the big picture from the beginning but also realized you need some sort of central coordination and stepped up to the plate. I’d known Bill Griffith for years as part of the Renaissance Faire. He is not only a geologist – a handy skill when you’re looking at raw ground – but has attended all sorts of festivals and faires across the country. He has a good idea of what works, what doesn’t and what’s worth trying.
Then the dynamic changed. People started coming to us, having heard about these crazy dreamers in Spotsylvania. Bonnie Williams called me up out of the blue and said, she had an idea for an equestrian park that would be so much more usable if it was part of a bigger picture. She was right. Tom Thompson knows how to make new builds work with existing natural beauty and had a dream of creating a park that is not only visually stunning but has sound, smells and textures creating a full sensory experience. His ideas meshed perfectly with Jason Miller’s dream of a farm to table food service for every event on the site. There have been others who brought us great ideas that have been incorporated into the Common Ground project plan but who couldn’t invest the time. We thank them for entrusting us with their dreams.
In these next few blogs, I’m going to introduce you to the founders. We’ll do this in the form of an interview. I hope you’ll see what I do: a passionate, quirky, driven and eclectic group with a broad range of life experiences sharing a common goal: the Common Ground Event Park.