Tales of positive change from my local community have always helped put a smile on my face. I mean, it's why I got into the parks and recreation field; I believe what we do truly changes people’s lives for the better.
Our hectic day-to-day often causes us to overlook the positive changes that happen around us. What I wasn't prepared for: witnessing incredible, transformative changes in the lives of my co-workers. On that note, boy do I have a tale to tell!
A LITTLE "COMIC" HISTORY:
Two years ago, the Arlington Parks and Recreation Department (APRD) was looking for a part-time employee to help with web and mobile design. Following a number of interviews with candidates, Marketing Aide Jason Torres was selected to join the team.
Torres had a professional goal of creating a comic book. It just so happens that, for years, the Arlington Parks and Recreation Department has wanted to create a department activity guide.
The activity guide would be given away as a promotional piece to local youth to help promote parks and recreation programs. In addition, the document would provide kids learning opportunities, coloring pages and mind-challenging activities.
ALONG COMES ECOFEST ARLINGTON:
Every year, the City of Arlington hosts an environmental education event: Ecofest Arlington. This event offers eco-friendly arts & craft and environmental education classes, tree give-a-ways, live entertainment and much more.
In 2013, the APRD marketing staff created a superhero, Eco-man, to help battle the evils of litter, pollution and promote environmental awareness. While the Eco-man character was mainly used to promote Ecofest, Torres saw an opportunity to achieve a personal career goal: creating a comic book series. He inquired about creating an original comic book series for the new department mascot, which was met with a big "thumbs up" from his co-workers.
During the promotion of Ecofest Arlington in 2014, the first edition of the “Adventures of Eco-man” hit the streets of Arlington, Texas.
The 8-page, comic book was offered for free during the event to kids who were fascinated by the Eco-man character and wanted to “join the revolution” against the evils of pollution. Eco-man himself made a live appearance at Ecofest Arlington 2014 to autograph the new comic book for hundreds of Arlington youth. The promotion was an incredible success story for the APRD and the City of Arlington.
WHERE I'M GOING WITH THIS:
This is a prime example of municipal marketing at its finest. The ARPD was fortunate enough to find Torres, and discover his artistic skill, which provided our team a unique opportunity. Through the Ecofest Arlington promotional campaign, Torres achieved his personal/professional goal of creating a comic book while assisting the department in completing a desired project.
The APRD marketing team has been fortunate to find staff with specific skill sets; however, we refuse to believe these types of successes were simply "up for chance”. There are creative, quality team members in every department across the country.
I urge you to identify areas for improvement, develop a plan to seek out individuals who possess certain skills, and capitalize on the talents of your existing staff members. Don't fall into the trap that you can only hire full time employees to find a skill. Consider a combination of full time, part time, seasonal and contracted staffing. You may be surprised what a high school or college student can help you accomplish.
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