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Be Part of the Solution

be-part-of-the-solutionIn response to the commentary found on an Editorial published today on the I share these thoughts.  The Internet is powerful.  I believe we must use it for good.  In our country, we can speak freely. Yet, it seems more people choose to speak freely negatively than to create positive change.  This message is my small effort to keep fighting the good fight.

Ron Alexander, thank you for your commitment to our community.  I don’t know who you are (you seem to hide your true identity, probably because you have very good reason), but I know that you are very passionate about what happens in our community.

You and I have something in common.  I too am a passionate person.  The difference between us is that I use my passion to try to make a positive difference in our community; therefore, I am willing to listen to people like Tom Phillips.  Tom is not a native to Polk County – and I know that it’s not easy to be an outsider in this community, but that hasn’t stopped him.  He came to Polk County less than 5 years ago, with one purpose: to improve the mass transit system in Polk County and if you spent some time researching all that he has done, you’d discover that he has done some amazing work since he arrived.  We are fortunate to have him in our community.

Imagine being Tom. A smart guy with a lot of passion, energy and desire to make things around him better.  To apply the knowledge and experiences that he has had, he came to Polk County because we needed someone to help change the status of our Mass Transit – maybe this isn’t something you or I need to take advantage of, but then again, not everything is about you and I.  It’s about the big picture.  It’s about the entire picture – not just the view of one or two.

After reading your comments, I believe that this isn’t about taxes for you. This is about revenge.  From the hundreds of comments I have read that you have written, it’s obvious that you feel like you’ve been given the shaft – you don’t look at things objectively, you don’t see both sides of an argument, you don’t weigh out the debate and consider anything other than how you can stick it to the man – to give yourself some personal satisfaction… you use your words to lash out at people who work to bring value to our community, and I think that’s the wrong approach…. I also think you are damaging the future of our community in many ways.

What you don’t realize is that your insightful comments may be doing more harm than good.  Today, social media is the public forum that used to exist offline.  Instead of attending a commission meeting, or town hall meeting, people can share their opinions in a safe environment, in the comfort of their own homes without consideration for those they are attacking.

I am sure you are aware of this, and it is probably your intent, but I want to explain the possible side effects of your incessant bashing of our “corrupt leaders” as you so frequently call them. Have you considered the future leaders of our great community?  What they think when they read these comments from a bitter, angry avatar?  You indicate you are an elderly gentleman… maybe you don’t care about the future of our community… and if that is the case, you are not only bitter and angry, you’re selfish.  Whatever you do, from wherever you are, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  I encourage you to become part of the solution, because we need more people like Tom to continue to choose to be leaders in our community.

Tom didn’t need me to come to his aid… But I truly felt it was time I shared my thoughts, for whatever they are worth.

My “Crazy” Vision for Lakeland

“Authenticity doesn’t mean listening to people and parroting back what we hear. It means telling people what we believe and then waiting to see who is attracted by what we espouse and who isn’t. This is why we are drawn to an authentic brand over a non-authentic brand”

I watched this video, and as always was inspired by Simon Sinek…

The thing is, I am driven by something I believe in with my whole being.  It doesn’t exist.  It might be impossible to attain, but I can see it.

My vision for Lakeland’s Small Businesses – LBL:

A COMMUNITY, in which everyone can participate. Where leaders listen, and together, transparently look for solutions. Where being human is celebrated, not belittled. Where encouragement eliminates fear, and risk of failure does not stifle, but is understood as part of growth. Where everyone who believes in and is willing to work to support the community is welcome. Where no one begrudges the success of another, but rather celebrates it – and feels PART of it. Where a LEADER is defined by what a person is capable of, not only what they have already accomplished.

This is what I can see on the other side of this amazing community. It’s what I work for EVERY single day.

Simon Sinek Inspires me and compels me to believe in myself, because when you ask my why, when you take some time to really get to the heart of what drives me, it is because I truly believe in the people of our community and that we are all part of the solution for our economy.

It’s terrifying, and yet thrilling to stop and think about what my vision is for the community of LBL.  But… I believe in myself, and I believe in the people who read this and say, “YES. That is me. I want that too.” Because THOSE are the folks that will help us create the community we all want for ourselves and our future!!!

Thanks for the inspiration, Simon, but more importantly…

To whoever is reading this: THANK YOU for reading this and believing in me.



Go Local or Die: A Simple Lesson About Supply and Demand


love Publix’s Peppermint Stick ice cream. I look forward to the holidays every year because of this one item! When I was a little girl, this ice cream taught me a lesson about supply and demand that I have never forgotten. Society has changed a lot since the early 80’s, and I think we need to remember some of the basic facts of life, or rather, simple economics.

When I asked my father why Peppermint Stick Ice Cream wasn’t available every month of the year, he explained it to me like this:

When people don’t buy things, there’s no demand to make them because they will probably not sell month over month. Companies have to make a profit; otherwise they won’t be able to stay in business.

I told him that I would buy the ice cream year round! 

And he smiled at me and said, “I know you would, sweetie. But Publix needs more than just you to buy the ice cream in order to keep it on the shelves year-round.”

Today, this memory struck a chord in my heart as I drove down South Florida Avenue – a main thoroughfare in my city of Lakeland, FL, past the Polk Theatre. I hope you’ll indulge me as I tell you why this story of Peppermint Ice cream crossed my mind today.

Yesterday, I ran into a friend at a local coffee shop and he mentioned an article he had read several years ago by Derek Sivers about why Derek chose to focus on his global audience and not his local audience.

I went to search for the article after the conversation and read the entire article twice. I didn’t take away the same message as my friend – that’s a conversation for another day, but I did take this away:

There are becoming fewer and fewer of us who choose to turn IN, toward our local community.

Conveniences such as the Internet make the rest of the world so accessible, and for many emerging entrepreneurs, so much more appealing. They can “own the world” why would they build a business that catered only to their city or local market? Of course, some, larger cities might not feel this as much, but I know it’s something that is affecting us in Lakeland, and in other small cities around us. That’s on the “supply” side… it’s the same thing on the “demand” side too, young adults are biding their time to “get out of dodge” and go see the world.

This means that those of us who DO care about our local community have to work doubly or triply hard to ensure the success of our small, local businesses. Not just the new ones, but the traditional ones as well. Places in Lakeland that come to mind are the Polk Theatre and the Silvermoon Drive-in. These types of businesses are becoming less and less popular as the world we live in continues to grow globally.

Young people today want new, innovative, cutting edge and high energy. They aren’t seeing as much value in the history, the traditions, the “old school” ways of doing things. And, slowly, quietly, and gracefully, these businesses, rich in tradition, staples of our small towns, are dwindling.

Unless we choose to buy from our local mom and pops more frequently; unless we begin to appreciate what our local culture offers, the familiarity and the closeness, the tight-knit and the authenticity that represents Small Towns across America, we’re going to lose them – not just until the holidays come around again, but forever. If the community does not make a conscious effort to support the small, local businesses in town, they will no longer exist.

It’s a simple lesson in economics, with a simple solution.

Supply remains, when there is a demand. When demand wanes, there is no longer a reason to keep businesses open.

So, here’s the call to action for this post: Look around your town and find some businesses to support. Support them by putting your money where your mouth is. Shop there, eat there, donate to their Fund Drives to upgrade their equipment so they can keep their technology up to date.

Here’s one for Lakelanders today! There is currently a Fund Drive in place for The Polk Theatre to raise $105,000. So far, they have raised, $4,000. If they do not raise the funds to upgrade their equipment, they will no longer be able to bring the movies they have historically brought to Lakeland since 1928.


I don’t know much about theatres or the film industry, but I do know that our community and those who support it would miss these films, and what they say about the character of our town, if they were no longer able to show movies at THE POLK. There’s no way to measure the value of the presence of a theatre, like The Polk – an historic landmark – keeping movies alive for 87 years. But I believe there’s a strong message sent to those who are considering investing in the community, or starting a new business.

It says, “This community cares about things that last.”

It suggests that this is a great place to start or expand a business.

Prospective investors will look at our community with confidence, because its values reflect an ideal that says, “We take care of our community.”

Peppermint Stick Ice Cream is my favorite, but I can’t buy enough to keep it in the store year round. Just like I can’t donate enough to provide the Theatre with the money it needs to buy the digital projection equipment it needs.

If you are looking for more information about the Polk Theatre’s Digital or Die Campaign, visit:

If we want to keep our local economy alive, there’s no way to do that by only looking beyond our community – we have to balance the global with the local. To me, the most important investments are the ones that impact my daily life. Seeing empty buildings and closed down shops affects my daily life. And I will do everything I can to raise awareness, and make people think Locally, whenever possible.

When there is a demand, businesses flourish.

Why I am Voting for Howard Wiggs

I am voting for Howard Wiggs for Mayor of Lakeland and Here is Why.

(For me, it’s not about popularity… it’s about mindset)

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I am someone who tries NOT to take sides.  I am someone who looks for ways for everyone to win.  But we all know that’s not possible in an election. And it’s important to me that I share my story because I think it’s one that many people can relate to.  I believe, because of my experience as an unknown – trying to find my place in Lakeland, that’s it is important that other unknown, but talented, passionate people with great ideas and a willingness to contribute to the community in whatever way they can – find a more open, welcoming business environment than the one I experienced in 2009 when I started my local business.

As an outsider, it took a lot of work – no one should have to work as hard just to have a voice in the community.

When you have ideas, where do you go?  Who will listen?  The result of an open, welcoming leadership team is an open, welcoming community.  As it is, if you ask anyone who has opened a business in Lakeland on their own, without having the right connections, they will tell you about their uphill battle.  Invariably, there are always situations that might make things difficult for some business owners as they are trying to open their doors in a new location. However, when you hear the same frustrated story over and over again, it’s time to start connecting the dots, and acknowledge there is a problem.  Everyone, regardless of whether or not they have the right last name, or connections who will make the necessary introductions, deserves the same, fair treatment as everyone else.  If it’s who you know that makes it possible to get a business opened, eventually, we won’t have anyone willing to take on that burden.  This is something that starts in City Hall.  We need leaders who embrace open government, and support and encourage a culture of openness and transparency. Period.  Currently, that doesn’t exist.

I believe that Howard Wiggs represents the right mindset that we need to move us away from stagnation and accepting things because, “it’s just the way they are.”  I want a city government that listens. A culture that embraces new ideas and looks for ways to make them work, before simply saying that they won’t. An environment that welcomes collaboration by actually embracing the concept and offering opportunities that will encourage new ideas, even from outsiders.  I want to live in a city that other community leaders will look to as an example, and professionals, families, new businesses and young adults will want to call home.

I love Lakeland, because I have worked hard to find all the wonderful, hard-working passionate people who share similar ideas.  But not everyone is going to be willing to work as hard as I have.  We need to make it easier to discover all of the great things there are to love about Lakeland, and I believe Howard Wiggs is the person that will make that possible.

*DISCLAIMER: I have worked closely with Howard Wiggs throughout his campaign and was hired to offer professional services.  This post was not a paid endorsement and only reflects my personal thoughts about my experiences as I worked diligently to build my business in Lakeland, as an outsider, and was not approved or requested by Howard Wiggs or anyone else within the campaign. These experiences and my hope that the business environment will change for others are the reasons I decided to become involved in this campaign.

Could a Cash Mob Boost Morale for Lakeland?

It may seem simplistic, idealistic, and even downright silly, but I want to talk about the good things we, as Lakelanders do!  We have so much to be proud of, and the recent scandal has made us question our city.  The fact is, the city is still great.  The people are what makes that a fact.  I am tired of hearing all of the reactions to the LPD scandal.  It’s a mess and that’s all there is to it. It will be resolved. In the mean time, I think we ought to come together for a common cause.  How about supporting our local businesses?


I think we need to look around us and remind ourselves what makes Lakeland a place to feel proud of.

We recently sent Up With People students who were here in the spring to ask people in Downtown Lakeland what they loved about Lakeland.  The common answer was the people.  The people are what makes Lakeland special, and it’s the people who can stand together for a common cause and make a difference. So, let’s Cash Mob somebody!  If you need an explanation, read on.  If you’re looking for the details, here they are:

What: Cash Mob at Lighthouse Ministries Thrift Store at Shepherd Road.

RSVP on Facebook:

Address: 1637 Shepherd Road, Lakeland FL 33811

Phone: (863) 687-4076

Time: 10:00-6:00 (To be part of the “Mob,” join us at 9:45!)

What is a Ca$h Mob?

The simple definition is that a Ca$h Mob is a grassroots effort to make more people in our community aware of the local businesses that make our cities unique, by scheduling a “Mob” that targets one local business.  The idea is simple – on the day of the “Mob” everyone who wants to participate simply shows up at the secret location at a previously scheduled time and spends $10 or more at the “Hit” (the business that has been nominated by people in each city.)  The results?  The receiving business (“the Hit”) has a GREAT day, (and a lot of new customers!) but the people who participate are able to show their support for the local business, and be a part of something meaningful.  The overall energy at these events is so positive and dynamic, it’s hard not to notice how important each person is in making an impact.

The residual affects of these Mobs, however are the most important and meaningful:  People start thinking about local businesses and how their purchases, however small, DO matter to the mom and pop shops in town.  They begin to connect with their desire to be a part of a community and NOT just another number.  Each person who attends the Ca$h Mob takes away something different.  But all of them begin to think about the local businesses that they might have been neglecting before, simply because it’s more convenient to shop at a Big Box Store.  Slowly, through consistent participation in these events and by continuing to raise awareness of the local options we have, our community strengthens and our shopping habits shift.  It’s a subtle difference at first, but the impact, when enough people choose to embrace their community, is long lasting, and sustainable.

How are Businesses Chosen?

There is a Facebook group called Polk Cash Mobs Group in which we ask for nominations.

Businesses who qualify:

1. Must have local owner – Franchises are acceptable as long as the owner is 100% local.

2. Must have merchandise that retails for $20 or lower.

3. Must be located in Lakeland, FL

4. Must have a storefront – **online businesses will not be considered for Cash Mobs at this time.

5. Must have reasonable accessibility and parking options that will serve a group of “mobbers.”

6. They must be involved in the community in some way.  (Civic organizations, Charities, Donations, Volunteer, etc)

Sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact Chrissanne Long for details: 863-606-8672