Tight-knit Cincinnati is a bit notorious for the challenge it poses to newcomers, a.k.a. those who stare blankly when asked “What school did you go to?” Since January, C-Change, a leadership development program through the Chamber of Commerce, has been wrestling with how to change that. AGAR Marketing’s Andrew Salzbrun answered with The Grand City Experiment. “It’s a 31-day challenge in October asking people in the area to step out of their comfort zone,” he says.
Here’s how it works: each day, participants will be e-mailed a simple, low-cost challenge, such as buying a stranger a cup of coffee or inviting the neighbor they don’t know to dinner. Salzbrun hopes these shared experiences will foster a more welcoming environment. “It’s rare that we get to wave one banner together as a city,” he says. “We have the Reds and the Bengals, but not everyone is a sports fan. The closest we come is something like LumenoCity, but even then only 50,000 people can be involved and we want more than that.”
The goal is to get 40,000 people to sign on; by late August, only about 2,500 had. Still, the word is out. Community leaders in Oklahoma City and Charlotte, North Carolina, have contacted C-Change about creating their own versions of the experiment.
“It’s just an overall goodness campaign for the city,” Salzbrun says. So go ahead, ask the stranger in the park to throw a Frisbee with you. Maybe they’ll be your next business partner. Or not. What happens in November is all up to you.
October 1-31, check out thegrandcityexperiment.com