Freedom Fest took teamwork


Monday morning, following the success of Freedom Fest on Saturday, I read an article by Quint Studer, author of “Building A Vibrant Community.” Entitled “Freedom Takes Teamwork,” he applied lessons from the way the founding fathers of the United States worked together toward independence and the formation of our country to how communities today need to work together to revitalize and become more prosperous and vibrant.

It struck me that “Freedom Fest took teamwork,” and that we saw many of the points Studer makes at work during last weekend and the preparation time leading up to it.

Studer’s premise was that in communities where people put aside their self-interests to work as a team, things get done and much is accomplished.  Conversely, in communities where self-interest reigns, nothing gets done.

Here are the four lessons and takeaways from Studer’s article.

“LESSON No. 1: Our founders set aside their self-interests and created something that worked for everyone.”

Studer points out the diverse interests, professions and industries that were present.  Yet, they saw the overarching mission and vision and didn’t get dragged into never-ending debate over their short-term self-interest.

Studer’s “TAKEAWAY FOR TODAY: Don’t be overly concerned with your own wellbeing. Setting aside your own short-term best interests may accomplish far more for everyone in the long run. Because a rising tide lifts all boats, this includes you.”

“LESSON No. 2:  They didn’t let ideological differences stop them from achieving something tangible.”

There were many details that needed to be decided about how the new nation would function, but the founders recognized that they could destroy the possibility of it even being formed if they weren’t willing to set aside some disagreements for the sake of progress.

Studer’s “TAKEAWAY FOR TODAY: Know what matters. Don’t get bogged down by petty disputes about how things should get done and let it sabotage the greater task at hand.”

“LESSON No. 3: They weren’t constantly trying to steal the spotlight from each other.”

Studer contends that there were no disputes over who got to have the largest signature (as in John Hancock) on the Declaration of Independence, but that the founders remained focused on the ultimate vision confronting them in the conflict with the King of England.

Studer’s “TAKEAWAY FOR TODAY: Don’t always try to make it about yourself, or worry that your teammates are getting the spotlight. Keep the greater goal in mind and stay focused on that.”

“LESSON No. 4: The founders didn’t wait on the government to ‘fix it.’”

Studer compares the action taken by representatives from the 13 colonies to the way local citizens today can take action to change their communities for the better.

Studer’s “TAKEAWAY FOR TODAY: Remember that citizen-powered change is the most powerful change. If it’s to be, it’s up to you and me, not government agencies.”

The final point Studer makes is that “we need each other.” Like the founding fathers, no one person on a team is perfect, but according to Studer, “Teamwork is a powerful force. We couldn’t have built a nation without it, and we can’t build a better community without it either.”

As I stated earlier, I believe we saw the results of the growing commitment to teamwork that our great city is experiencing during its 200th year celebration. Freedom Fest did take teamwork, and we saw it in action.

Thanks are due to so many people for the success we saw this weekend. Here are just a few that I know of:  Maria Temples, Mark Carithers, Columbia Gearheads, TMH Accountants, First Southern Bank, Mack Grubbs Motors, VOXO, Mayor Justin McKenzie, Board of Aldermen, Experience Columbia LLC, Kristian Agoglia, Jacob Harrison, Nik Ingram, Main Street Columbia, Laura Hobgood, April Davis, Alene Varnado, Andrea Porter, Stephanie Guidroz, Tammy Riley, Juanita Stovall, The Church on Main, Brian Stewart, Elmer Blanchard, John Sabine, Jay Rayborn, Citizens Bank, St. Luke’s Home Health, Beal’s Collision, Samantha Alberson State Farm, MM Construction, Pearl River Valley Electric Power, Michael McDaniel, Mickey Webb, Marion Theater, Sweet Olive, The Outpost, Cook and Fortenberry, Hill Hardware, Walmart, Phi Kappa, The Dustys, Columbia High School football and baseball teams, EVERY VENDOR, Artwistic Revolution, Megan Sauls, Ayla White, Shabulous, Second Street Bean, Ann’s Embroidery, Cagle Gallery, Entrigue, The Flower Shop on Church, The Columbian-Progress, WFFF, WCJU, Elsie, Columbia Fire Department, Chief Jeff McKenzie, Assistant Chief Lyle Berard, Marion County supervisors, American Legion Post 90, Tri-Community Fire Department, Marion General Hospital, Columbia Police Department, Carlton Thornhill, Susan Amundson, all those who attended, Chief Michael Kelly, Southern Grace Boutique, The Berry Patch and many more volunteers!

Each of these people played some role, whether it was simply cooperating with the decisions made to actively planning, to sponsorships and volunteering.

If I left you out and you helped, please know you are appreciated and it was not intentional --that’s my point!  So many people were working together, there’s probably not one person who knows everyone who helped.  WE, the community, ARE WORKING TOGETHER to make a difference in our future.  Thank you to everyone who contributed in some way and to all who attended!  Let’s keep working together to build that vibrant future we envision! It is up to us, and with our teamwork, there’s no telling what we can accomplish.

Lori Watts is president of the Marion County Development Partnership. Contact her at