FORTHCOMING: Considering the Future State of Our City, Fort Wayne

FORTHCOMING: Considering the Future State of Our City is a citizen-led book project in Fort Wayne published by MKM Architecture + Design in partnership with Input Fort Wayne. The book is a collection of essays written by Fort Wayne residents – 20 ideas from 20 voices outlining 20 ideas that should shape community development for the next 20 years. 

You can read all of the essays on Input's website, or purchase a physical copy of the book at MKM's Downtown office at 119 W. Wayne St. Proceeds will be donated to the United Way of Allen County. Email [email protected] for more information.

Enjoy the essays below.

Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

-Jane Jacobs


By Patti Hays

I was a teenager when Alvin Toffler released his book Future Shock. In his book, he told me that society was undergoing an overwhelming change. He wrote about information overload and that the pace of change was leaving people disconnected and disoriented. We may be physically in the same place, but that change was so significant that it felt as if we were in an entirely new culture: a future shock.

That was 1970. We had landed on the moon just a year earlier, but we had yet to see a woman elected to a full term in the U.S. Senate or appointed to the Supreme Court. Cigarettes were still being advertised on television. There were no home computers or smartphones, no email, no MTV, no SNL, no GPS or www, no home video games, or Star Wars. How much change has accelerated since 1970!

He later wrote: “The secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they — at some distant point in the future — will take over the reins.”

This book, FORTHCOMING: Considering the Future State of Fort Wayne, is one attempt to harness those reins and elicit a little of the brains and imagination of Fort Wayne’s emerging voices.  What city do they see as part of their future in 2040?

Toffler reminded us that we have “got to think about big things when you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” These 20 authors ask us some of those big and small things.
  • How tightly do we hold on to our history and legacy?
  • Do we embrace our true identity, all parts of it?
  • Can we be more curious and challenge our routine?
  • Which is more important:  social capital or financial capital? 
  • Are we only seeking the talent that mirrors those like us? 
  • How willing are we to test the unknown knowing failure may be the result?
In this city of three rivers, it is apropos to consider the Chinese proverb: “Learning is like rowing upstream; not to advance is to drop back.”  We have made progress, but it will be with the full participation of these younger minds to nurture, in all of us, a greater aspiration and future for Fort Wayne.


By Zachary Benedict

The last two years have been difficult for everyone. Many of us have felt isolated, relegated to experiencing the world through endless virtual meetings, curbside services, and clumsy remote work arrangements as we watched more than 850,000 of our neighbors tragically die from a global pandemic. All the while, as we were confined to our homes, it seemed as though we witnessed the demise of the American spirit through our televisions. From the death of George Floyd to the invasion of the United States Capitol, we found ourselves forced to assess our behavior – as a nation, as a community, and as individuals.

There is nothing new about this need for self-reflection. In some ways, it’s part of the experiment of democracy. As Paul Harvey once famously said, “In times like this, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.” 

The human condition is a stubborn thing. It progresses and regresses in often painful ways.  But that process, like these times, isn’t unique to our current reality. Tragedy and fear have been constant companions throughout our evolution as a species. And we can find some relief in appreciating the struggles that previous generations have overcome when they felt similar fears and moved forward with the hope of creating a better world. But how do we start that discussion when the world seems so fractured?

Before we can move forward, before we can attempt to define the “new normal” that so many are desperate to articulate, it seems important that we take a moment to pause – to reflect on where our priorities should be in response to the world we are currently experiencing. More importantly, we need to consider what we’ve learned about ourselves – and how these realizations should shape the future of our communities.

To begin that process on a local level, this project assembled a diverse group of local leaders (economists, lawyers, urban planners, entrepreneurs, artists, politicians, architects, etc.) to explore what ideas they consider to be misunderstood or underappreciated when envisioning the future of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The hope was to offer an assortment of concepts from a wide variety of voices who were passionate about the success of the city and the people it supports. 

The result was this collection of essays – 20 ideas from 20 voices outlining 20 ideas that should shape community development for the next 20 years. In some ways, it’s a love letter to Fort Wayne, one that hopes to shape the narrative and leadership of the city moving forward.  And while the topics offer a broad range of considerations, they all fall under one central theme.


To provide effective leadership, particularly at the community level, this project argues that we need to prioritize the ability to be forthcoming – both in the sense of (a) an ability to envision future events and (b) a willingness to be open, candid, and honest with one another. The more forthcoming we can be about our community (and ourselves) the more successful we can be at cultivating meaningful change.
As we face the anxiety and fear that continues to grow around us, these changes can only begin through the facilitation of honest conversations about who we are and who we want to become. 

This project is an effort to start that discussion.   

Read the chapters

Accuracy by Kara Hackett
Alignment by Kristin Giant
Awareness by Kristin Marcuccilli
Civility by Susan Mendenhall
Connection by Dan Baisden
Delight by Ellen Cutter
Empathy by Uzma Mirza
Gumption by Courtney Tritch
Homogenization by Alex Hall
Inclusivity by Irene Paxia
Innovation by David Buuck
Legitimacy by Heather Schoegler
Mortality by Leslie Friedel
Nesting by Zachary Benedict
Risk by Alison Gerardot
Sacrifice by Sharon Tubbs
Seek by Matt Kelley
Shadows by Andrew Hoffman
Specificity by Jacob Benedict
Voices by Chris Crisler
Afterword by Tim Pape

About the Foreword author
Patti Hays is CEO of AWS Foundation, a public foundation whose mission is to build a more inclusive Northeast Indiana for people of all abilities.  Patti’s strength is being able to see the big picture while still focusing on the details needed to realize success. She is as much at ease meeting with community leaders as spending time with individuals, their families, and caregivers to learn more about their dreams and the much-needed support to make those dreams come true. Born in Youngstown, Ohio and raised in Pittsburgh, she has lived and worked in cities like Charleston, SC and New Orleans, LA before returning to the Midwest and calling Fort Wayne home. With undergraduate and graduate degrees in Nursing, her work history spans education, direct patient care, hospital administration, and strategic consulting. Two of her three children live outside of Indiana but are Hoosiers at heart, with degrees from Ball State, Purdue, IU and IPFW. Patti is a passionate advocate for the region serving on various boards throughout the years representing issues of health, the arts, and regional development. She is co-founder of Advancing Voices of Women and, along with the other co-founders, was named Journal Gazette Citizen of the Year in 2018.  When free time is available, she and her husband usually spend it with books and suitcases in hand visiting grandchildren and encouraging them to come back home to Indiana.
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