We Can! project in South Bend

The Observer, a student newspaper for Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College ponders the question of how South Bend, Indiana could appear on Newsweek’s recent list of dying cities in the light of the fact that it was an All-America City Award finalist in 2009. (Read the Observer article here.)

Well, one possible answer is that these lists are often misleading.  South Bend was apparently flagged because of its loss of population and manufacturing jobs, but the city has a lot of strengths, not the least of which is its relationship to Notre Dame and other nearby colleges and universities.

Another point, which comes up again and again, is that the All-America City Award is not a beauty contest. We ask applicants to list their strengths and weaknesses and list three successful of projects to address their most pressing challenges.

South Bend happened to have some terrific projects. The city’s neighborhood revitalization partnership with the local universities and hospitals was impressive, as was its government innovation task force. Thanks to local  anti-childhood obesity efforts, South Bend was selected one of the three cities to pilot the national We Can! campaign in 2007.