Fort Wayne will be feeling the love today.
More than 200 people are registered for Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana’s “My City Summit,” a conference on loving the place you live.
“It’s designed by and for young adults, to get young adults more attracted to and engaged with the community,” organizer Michael Barranda said. “It’s to encourage people to not only just to love your community but to give back to the community, volunteer in the community, be engaged in the community. Be passionate, a champion for your community, but also serve your community.”
Speakers at the event, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Grand Wayne Center, include Dr. Katherine Loflin, radio show host of “Place Matters,” and Peter Kageyama, author of “For the Love of Cities” and co-founder of the Creative Cities Summit.
In addition, there will be breakout sessions such as “My City Without Silos” on being open and inclusive; “Defining Leadership”; “Getting Politically Engaged Without Running for Office”; “Putting Your Passion to Work”; and the premier of “Citizen Wayne,” a video showcase of local venues, places, and points of interest as a way to market the cultural, recreational and entertainment assets of Fort Wayne to young adults.
Barranda said the conference is not intended to persuade people to love Fort Wayne – anyone scheduled to take a half-day off work and pay $25 to attend likely already loves the city.
“If they’re going to show up to the summit they’re not the curmudgeons to begin with,” Barranda said. “It’s about reinforcing that love. It’s about putting those feelings to work.”
He said critics laughed at the idea, saying they would be lucky to get 100 people to attend.
Instead, more than 200 had registered as of Thursday, and Barranda said they were still coming in.
Registration is available at the door, but Barranda cautioned there may not be enough boxed lunches for those who do so.
The cost is $25, or $20 for YLNI members; for more information, go to ylni.org/projects/mycitysummit.
“We want to change the perception that Fort Wayne is not open to young adults and minority groups,” Barranda said. “We want to change that Us-versus-Them mentality, change perception that current leaders aren’t open to new, young leaders stepping up. We want to provide opportunities for people to become more involved.”
The cost of the summit is being offset by a grant from the Knight Foundation’s donor-advised fund administered by the Greater Fort Wayne Community Foundation, after Knight Foundation’s research showed Fort Wayne lacks strong community attachment among young college graduates.