Tag Archives: Amarillo Millennial Movement

Irony continues to provide a bit of sting

There might be a reader or two of this blog who will presume this brief post is an assault on a young woman who once lived in Amarillo, Texas.

It isn’t. Please accept the notion that I intend only to reiterate an astonishing irony.

Meghan Riddlespurger once was the front woman for what she called the “Amarillo Millennial Movement.” She fought for the voter approval of a proposed downtown Amarillo sports/entertainment venue. Her primary motivation, she said at the time, was to entice “millennials” to remain in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle after they finished their education. She wanted them to stay at home and to enjoy the fruits of the entertainment offerings that the venue would provide.

She posted this message overnight on Facebook: When you build it, they’ll come. Please support your walkable downtown development efforts and give your heart to municipal efforts because this is where a difference can be made. Just a few years ago, people said none of this could happen. And then it did. Believe in the most and fight for the best. Your city loves you! Goodnight!

It’s a lovely message. I presume Meghan returned to Amarillo to take in a baseball game at Hodgetown, which is the direct result of her efforts to help rejuvenate her hometown’s downtown district.

But she left the city not long after the November 2015 non-binding referendum victory she had sought. She now lives in Fort Worth, where I presume she is doing well. What about the “walking the walk”?

I harbor no personal animus toward this young woman. I like Meghan Riddlespurger, even though we don’t know each other well. I left the city, too, but I’m an old man who merely comments on local matters through this blog. I wasn’t invested at the level Riddlespurger was invested.

I just find the irony to be so very remarkable.

I do have to say this, though, about the young woman’s effort: It is paying off with the Sod Poodles playing before nice crowds at the ballpark and the city reaping the reward of the effort Meghan and many others put into its downtown redevelopment.

Is there another AMM in Amarillo’s future?

As I watch Amarillo, Texas, morph into something different from what it has been since the Santa Fe Railroad opened up shop on the Texas Panhandle, I am wondering about who or what will shape the city’s future.

It won’t be me. I have moved away along with my wife and our pooch. We live in the Metroplex these days, but I retain a keen interest in the city we called home for more than two decades.

My curiosity turns to the creation of a one-woman “movement” that sought to win approval of what we used to call the “multipurpose event venue,” or MPEV. You remember it, yes? It was called the Amarillo Millennial Movement.

The AMM made a bit of a splash when it jumped onto the front page of the local newspaper and got some air time on local TV stations.

AMM was the creation of one individual, Meghan Riddlespurger. I was able to shake her hand once, and we got to know each other from some distance.

She had a bit of help from others around town to get a referendum placed on the local ballot. The referendum asked residents if they supported construction of the MPEV. They said “yes.” The City Council then honored the residents’ wishes and proceeded with development of the project.

The MPEV is now called Hodgetown. It is a magnificent ballpark in downtown Amarillo. It is home to the Texas League’s Amarillo Sod Poodles, a minor-league baseball team that is playing before healthy crowds. Hodgetown recently was named the nation’s top AA ballpark; the Sod Poodles were named the best baseball team nickname in America. The city is proceeding toward its future.

Meghan Riddlespurger? She bailed long ago. After the 2015 election, she moved to Fort Worth. The AMM exists no longer.

Might there be an actual “movement” on the city’s horizon that emerges to promote the kind of thing that Riddlespurger espoused, which was to promote Gen-Xers and millennials to stay in Amarillo?

Riddlespurger had a noble goal. I am dismayed that she decided against following her own campaign theme. It was perhaps the height of irony that she would form this “movement,” talk up the virtue of staying put and helping Amarillo reap the reward … only to, um, head for a big city far away.

Whatever the case, Amarillo is moving ahead. That’s a good thing for the city and for those who are staying put.

Given that my hope springs eternal, I’ll keep hoping for an actual “millennial movement” to sprout way up yonder on the Caprock.

Just wondering: Amarillo Matters … where is it?

A political action group emerged from nowhere earlier this year. It called itself Amarillo Matters. Its mission, as I understand it, was to elect a slate of candidates to the City Council.

It succeeded. This past spring, voters flipped the entire five-member council, electing five newbies. Amarillo Matters then seemingly packed its bags, and its members went back to whatever they were doing before they formed this political action committee.

They were mostly successful businessmen and women. Their agenda included electing individuals who shared their pro-business tilt. Hey, I have no problem with that.

There’s been some success in the months since the new council members took office. Chief among them is the landing of that AA minor-league baseball franchise that is relocating to Amarillo from San Antonio and will play baseball at the new ballpark that will be built in downtown Amarillo; they’ll toss the first pitch in April 2019.

That’s a big deal, man.

But what has become of Amarillo Matters? It’s no longer garnering headlines, or any discussion on local broadcast media. I looked at its website this evening. It’s still up. AM has a link where one can contribute money; I am not giving them any dough.

I’ve written plenty about them already:

http://highplainsblogger.com/?s=Amarillo+Matters

Given that I am unplugged from most of what’s going on at City Hall these days, I am left to use this blog to pose questions about some of the community’s key players.

I consider Amarillo Matters to be an important cog in the city’s civic machinery. I know many of the folks who formed the PAC’s leadership team earlier this year. I respect them, too.

I hope it hasn’t become what the Amarillo Millennial Movement turned out to be: a flash in the pan. AMM formed to promote the approval of the ballpark in the November 2015 municipal referendum. The measure passed — and AMM then vanished, vaporized, disappeared. Yes, I am aware that the AMM comprised essentially one individual, a young woman who moved to Fort Worth. But you get my point, yes?

Amarillo Matters, where are you and what are you doing to make sure that that Amarillo still, um, matters?

What became of this Amarillo ‘movement’?

When you see the word “movement” attached to a political activity, you ought to get the feeling of a groundswell, an initiative with staying power.

I thought recently of a “movement” that surfaced in Amarillo in 2015. It was called the Amarillo Millennial Movement. Do you recall it, too? Good on ya if you do.

The AMM is gone. It vanished into thin air seemingly the moment that city voters in November 2015 approved a non-binding referendum calling for construction of the multipurpose event venue in downtown Amarillo.

Its co-founder was a young woman named Meghan Riddlespurger, who followed her friend and mentor Melissa Dailey to Fort Worth; Dailey was forced out as director of Downtown Amarillo Inc. When Dailey hit the road, the AMM’s co-founder hit the road with her.

The ostensible idea behind the AMM was to energize the city’s younger residents, to encourage them to stay in Amarillo rather than bolt for greener pastures, more opportunity, greater career choices. AMM got excited about the MPEV and a few of those young folks — their numbers aren’t exactly clear to me — became involved in the pro-MPEV campaign.

It’s troubling to me that AMM isn’t around today to relish the news that came out about the pending start of the 2019 Texas League baseball season, which will include an Amarillo-based team affiliated with the San Diego Padres of the National League.

The Local Government Corporation managed to finish the deal. The LGC persuaded the San Antonio Missions to come here in time for the 2019 season. The ballpark where they’ll play must be done on time for them to throw out the first pitch.

We’re focusing on the baseball element. The team that will play at the ballpark will be its primary tenant. There will be other events at the MPEV/ballpark. That’s what I always understood was the focus behind AMM’s mission, to generate youthful exuberance to attend the various other entertainment-related events at the venue.

Riddlespurger has spoken publicly about the negativity she experienced while leading this AMM effort. That was one major reason why she decided to leave Amarillo. Interesting, yes? She helps found an organization that urges young residents to stay home, then she bails on the city to pursue a career opportunity.

Hey, I don’t blame her for seeking to advance her own future.

The Amarillo Millennial Movement, though, is a “movement” in name only. AMM is no longer around to witness the culmination of its greatest political triumph.

My hope springs eternal. Perhaps another group can rise up and join the marketing effort that will be required to ensure that the MPEV/ballpark attracts the activity it must to make it worth the effort to build it

Yes, Amarillo matters to Amarillo Matters

I have gotten a little better idea of what is driving a new political action group in Amarillo.

It’s called Amarillo Matters. Its website still doesn’t reveal too much about the organization, other than it cares greatly about the future of the city. As if that’s a novel concept, right?

Here’s the website. Take a look and see if you can glean more than I’ve been able to do.

http://www.amarillomatters.com/about_us/

Still, I’ve been able to determine that it comprises successful businessmen and women, civic leaders, folks who’ve demonstrated a commitment to improving the city.

I hear rumblings about Amarillo Matters backing certain candidates for the City Council; the city is conducting an election May 6, with all five council places up for grabs, per normal.

I don’t know what the future holds for Amarillo Matters, but my hope is that isn’t a flash in the pan, as the Amarillo Millennial Movement turned out to be.

AMM was formed to promote passage of the multipurpose event venue/downtown ballpark referendum that was on the November 2015 ballot. Voters approved the MPEV measure, which was non-binding; the City Council wasn’t obligated to abide by voters’ wishes, but it did.

AMM, though, has vanished. Not a word has been heard by the group. Oh, well.

Amarillo Matters, though, looks as though it might have more staying power.

We’ll all need to see demonstrated future activity as the new City Council takes office after the May election.

I remain the eternal optimist that the city will keep moving forward, even as it gets a push from Amarillo Matters.

AMM: Flash in the pan? Yeah, probably

amm

Two groups have taken the lead on opposing sides of Amarillo’s next big municipal election challenge.

Unite For Amarillo is favoring the seven propositions on the ballot that would pay for some extensive infrastructure improvements.

SaveAmarillo.org has formed to oppose the measures.

I am on the sidelines, offering commentary from the peanut gallery. I plan to support the propositions.

I also am wondering: What has become of the Amarillo Millennial Movement?

You remember AMM, yes? A young Amarillo woman, Meghan Riddlesburger, became the face and voice of this “movement,” which arose from nowhere to support the ballot measure that sought voter approval of the multipurpose event/ballpark venue the city plans to build in downtown Amarillo.

The measure passed. The Amarillo Globe-News honored Riddlesburger as a Headliner of the Year for 2015. She took a lot of flak from those who opposed the MPEV measure. The criticism was unduly harsh, unfair and it was hurtful … bordering on hateful.

Then she left the city for new opportunities in Fort Worth.

AMM’s status? As near as I can tell, it evaporated the moment the young woman departed Amarillo.

This is a disappointment for me. I actually bought into the notion that AMM represented a legitimate “movement” of young people dedicated to improving their city’s quality of life; that they were motivated to get behind the MPEV as a lure for other young people to stay here after getting their education.

Some of us — I include myself in that group — saw AMM as a potential deterrent to the “brain drain” that has been depleting the city’s intellectual wattage.

Here we are, a year after the MPEV vote. The city is asking residents for permission to improve its quality of life on a whole array of fronts: street repair, Civic Center expansion, park improvements, police and fire protection enhancements; athletic fields; municipal office improvements. The City Council broke the $340 million package into seven components and has asked its constituents to vote on them separately.

Where in the world has become of AMM, if it ever actually existed in the first place?

AMM has gone MIA

AMM

The thought occurred to me a bit earlier today.

Do you remember the Amarillo Millennial Movement? It was formed sometime this past year to speak for those young Amarillo residents who sought to create a more livable environment and to promote downtown revival as a reason to retain younger residents.

It had a young, energetic spokeswoman whose energy earned her special recognition by the Amarillo Globe-News as a “Headliner” winner for the year. Her efforts on behalf of the multipurpose event venue planned for downtown and the success of the citywide referendum that decided the fate of the MPEV won her lots of pats on the back and high-fives.

Meghan Riddlespurger, though, has moved on. She’s now living in Fort Worth. I trust — and hope — she’s doing well in Cowtown.

But this “movement” …

What’s become of it?

I admit I don’t get out as much as I did back when I was working full-time for a living. My media job required me to keep ears and eyes open. Now that I’m transitioning — albeit quite slowly — into full-time retirement mode my ears and eyes aren’t as wide open as they used to be.

AMM was a great idea. Its young energizer spoke eloquently for those things in which she believed. Riddlespurger managed to anger some of her then-fellow Amarillo residents. However, most folks with a lot on their minds and who are unafraid to speak on behalf of their own ideas do tend to tick others off. So, I don’t hold that against the young woman.

I’m curious about the status of this so-called “movement” she founded.

Aren’t there others who can pick up the banner? If so, they’ve been verrrry, verrrry quiet.

I don’t believe the need to keep young Amarillo residents involved and engaged in the city’s future has lessened any over the past year.

Or has it?

Movement founder makes her exit

 

Movement founder makes her exit

MPEV

A young woman with whom I am acquainted deserves a word of praise.

So I’ll give it to her in this blog post.

Meghan Riddlespurger has moved to Fort Worth to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer coordinator.

Riddlespburger made a name for herself in Amarillo over the past year. She became leader of a political action organization called the Amarillo Millennial Movement. She became as well a leading advocate for some big plans for the city’s downtown district.

AMM took the lead in promoting the multipurpose event venue, aka the MPEV or The Ballpark, which Amarillo voters endorsed in a referendum this past November.

I became a supporter of the young woman. I said so in this blog. Some comments responding to a few musings were quite critical of Meghan — and I’m quite sure some of the regular readers of this blog are going to toss a few more brickbats at her.

http://m.amarillo.com/news/latest-news/2016-04-22/millenial-movement-co-founder-leaves-fort-worth?v#gsc.tab=0

The only negative element I want to point out is that Riddlespurger chose to leave Amarillo after campaigning aggressively for a downtown revival concept she said ought to be aimed at keeping young residents here.

Her departure for Fort Worth would seem to take away some of the sincerity of her comments promoting the MPEV, the downtown convention hotel and all the other improvements being undertaken downtown.

I’m happy that Riddlespurger has answered a new calling by going to work for CASA. The organization does important work on behalf of children who need love, support and the protection offered by the state’s judicial system.

I also am delighted that, if only for a brief time, she rose to the challenge here and sought to get other young Amarillo residents involved in the political process.

I’m not entirely confident the push forward among some younger residents will retain its vitality.

For a time at least, Amarillo’s millennials had a spokeswoman who put herself front and center — and, yes, in the line of political fire — for a worthy and noble effort.

 

DAI getting support from AMM

downtownamarilloinc1

Downtown Amarillo Inc.’s future might be getting a bit murky.

Why? Well, that’s what a political organization comprising some young Amarillo residents wants to know.

Amarillo Millennial Movement has posted a video proclaiming the successes that have occurred in downtown Amarillo since the founding of DAI.

See the video here.

The Amarillo City Council is considering some major reconfiguration of downtown’s redevelopment strategy. DAI might not figure nearly as prominently in future economic redevelopment efforts.

The council might move some of the economic redevelopment efforts directly into City Hall, which would reduce significantly DAI’s role in future efforts.

AMM’s video cites a number of successful projects that have begun or been completed while DAI — a non-profit agency — has been on the job.

The Fisk Building revival? New lofts along 10th Avenue? Park development near the Potter County Courthouse? New commercial development? Street improvements? Ground being broken for the new Embassy Suites Hotel and for the new parking garage?

AMM wants DAI to stay on the job and is using social media to lobby the City Council to keep the agency as a viable economic development tool.

I happen to agree with AMM’s request.

I am acutely aware of the criticism that DAI has drawn from some quarters here and there in the city. But as I look at how downtown has progressed over the past few years, I keep wondering: Precisely why is this agency being singled out?

City Councilman Brian Eades remains a strong proponent for DAI. He said the other day that DAI “has been more responsible for the success we’ve had than any other entity.” He added that DAI comprises “experts at this and they’ve done a good job.”

So, why the rush to change what appears to be a successful formula for guiding the city toward a brighter future?

 

Recognition for ‘Headliner’ well-earned

millennials

People say it all the time.

They don’t do things for the recognition. They have higher, loftier goals than that. It’s all fine to be honored for your work, but that’s not what it’s all about, they say.

Sure thing. Truth be told, though, we all like to be patted on the back for a job well done.

To that end, a young Amarillo woman has received a well-placed honor by the Amarillo Globe-News. Meghan Riddlespurger is a Globe-News Headliner of the Year.

She made headlines by helping spearhead a movement of fellow young Amarillo residents to get involved in a municipal election. The Amarillo Millennial Movement — named to honor those from the so-called “millennial generation” — was created to campaign in favor of a multipurpose event venue that was decided in a citywide election this past November.

Riddlespurger stepped up. It wasn’t always an easy path to notoriety. She became the target of some criticism from those who opposed the MPEV. Some of the criticism was angry to the point of being mean and cruel.

But the young woman stayed the course.

It’s not yet known whether the AMM will have staying power. Nor is it known whether the effort to energize young voters will gather even more steam. Such endeavors often need a specific goal to craft strategies and tactics to meet that goal.

It’s my hope, though, that AMM’s efforts will continue.

Many of us have long lamented a couple of sad realities about municipal elections in this city.

One is that the overall turnouts for these elections are pitiful in the extreme. The MPEV referendum produced a greater than normal turnout, but let’s face it: 20-plus percent voter participation still isn’t great.

The other is that Amarillo has suffered a “brain drain” among young residents, who graduate from high school, then head off to college somewhere far away, get their degree and then come home back only to see Mom, Dad, their siblings and a few of their best friends. They leave the city behind while they pursue their dreams elsewhere.

Riddlespurger’s effort seeks to reverse that trend. It seeks to keep young people at home to raise their own families and to build a better community.

It’s a noble effort.

I’m glad to see the recognition come her way.

Well done — and well-earned — Meghan.

Keep the faith.