This year's Great Expectations events closed on a high note Sunday with Mayor-elect Michael Nutter offering a rousing endorsement of the effort to mobilize citizens from across Philadelphia who seek positive change.
It might have been tempting, in fact, to hoist a "Mission Accomplished" banner as the backdrop for Nutter's speech to more than 500 people at the Convention Center. But they know the mission has just begun.
As in no other recent mayoral election, the winning candidate appears to embrace many of the goals developed as part of this grassroots effort sponsored by The Inquirer and the University of Pennsylvania.
The gathering Sunday put the finishing touches on a citizens' agenda (
» READ MORE: www.greatexpectations07.com
). The detailed, 12-point to-do list for the city and region just so happens to be closely tracked by the mayor-elect's own campaign platform.
It was heady stuff, then, to hear Nutter call on all Philadelphians to "raise our expectations."
"At this unique moment in time, our paths and your goals and my goals and our collective goals are now crossing each other," he said.
As Nutter also noted, an agenda is only as meaningful as the follow-up efforts and the success in translating its ideas into policies, programs and achievements.
The citizens' agenda will be tweaked as a result of several hours of debate held after Nutter's speech. When completed, it will be presented to Nutter and City Council members at citizen forums early in the new year.
The agenda's issues - ranging from crime, education and jobs to neighborhoods and planning, the arts and the environment - aren't simple items on a punch list. But the year-long discussion also generated ideas for short-range initiatives that could be within easier reach (such as a YouTube site where citizens can post video of abandoned cars or trash-strewn lots needing attention).
Accountability is key, so it was good to hear Nutter ask that he be graded periodically on both his and the citizens' agendas.
With plans to continue gathering citizen input for several more years, the Great Expectations project certainly aims to oblige.