The summer of 2010 was bleak. No Pensacolian needs to ask why. However, in the midst of that tar pit of disaster and despair, Mona Amodeo and a few friends saw opportunity.
“We kept hearing, ‘We’ve got to restore. We’ve got to get things back to the way it was,’” Amodeo said. “We kept thinking, ‘It’s not about getting things back to the way it was. We’ve got to think beyond.’”
They saw it as an opportunity to take stock and build a stronger, more sustainable community.
That’s the idea behind the non-profit the group started recently, fittingly dubbed “Think Beyond.”
“Generally, what I’m passionate about is engaging people to move things toward a sustainable future,” Amodeo said. She sat at a table in the elegantly appointed conference room of idgroup, the branding agency of which she is president. The other officers of Think Beyond sat nearby.
The officers are an eclectic group, which includes lawyer and former president of IMPACT 100 Julie Sheppard; architect Kelly Wieczorek, who specializes in sustainable design; scientist Mary Gutierrez, who heads the local environmental group Earth Ethics; and designer Teresa Dos Santos.
What unites them is the desire to move Pensacola forward.
“There’s a whole lot of people out there like us,” Amodeo said. “As we started talking, it was like finding our tribe.”
“We don’t have just one goal or one vision that we’re pushing toward,” Wieczorek said.
Instead, the group intends to be a catalyst and a connector. They want to “create a space” for like-minded people and groups to unite and turn ideas into action.
“What we’re really looking for is people to innovate,” Amodeo said.
“If you look at our meetings,” Wieczorek said, “we’ve got people that have always been at the table, people that are heads of the table and people that have never been invited to the table.”
“My philosophy about economic development and branding and all that is that you have to have something,” Amodeo said. “If you build the core of ‘real’ and ‘meaningful,’ you’re not going to have to worry about attracting people here; and you’re not going to have to worry about building an economy; and you’re certainly not going to have to worry about the brand, because the brand will be what is.”
Think Beyond recently had their second public meeting. Meetings are to be held quarterly, with the next meeting tentatively falling in early September.
“We really want to put Pensacola on the map,” Wieczorek said.