In the 1984 President’s Report, then-Trumansburg Chamber President Richard Owlett reflected on an interesting issue brought to his attention by a life-long resident. It seems Trumansburg was not listed on an Atlas map given to her as a gift from her insurance agent. Interlaken and Mecklenburg were listed, but not Trumansburg. When Owlett’s outreach to the Atlas publisher went unanswered, the Chamber put its own map in its member brochure.
“As the saying goes, if you want something done, do it yourself,” he said.
I mention Owlett and the ’80s because in preparation for the 100th Anniversary Celebration, I was going through the three boxes and a canvas bag full of Chamber papers that were gifted to me. The ’80s were the most-well documented, and the similarities in the two Chambers was striking.
While many things have changed, many concerns of the Chamber remain the same. Owlett explains in a 1984 letter to the editor of the Trumansburg Free Press the four areas of focus of the Chamber at that time, which mirrors the focus of the Chamber today.
The first focus was informed by the then-newly adopted Constitution and By-Laws, which stated, “the purpose of this organization (the T.A.C. of C.) shall be to encourage the economic success of our area in general, by promoting member businesses as well as the human and geographic assets of the area.”
The Chamber board of the ’80s was attempting to serve five townships in three counties, which they felt were being ignored by the county chambers, a considerable commitment for an all-volunteer run board.
The recent Chamber board members are not the first to consider neighbors to be part of the Trumansburg area and who should be served by the Chamber.
This year, the by-laws were amended to reflect more of a focus on economic development and tourism, which was the second focus of the Chamber of the ’80s. The Chamber did not believe Trumansburg had the capacity to attract tourists to the area; rather, it focused on diverting the tourists in the area to Trumansburg proper, campaigning that tourists did not have to drive to Ithaca or Seneca Falls for any of their needs.
This is a message the Chamber of today has been promoting for the last several years. What is different, however, is the Chamber believes Trumansburg has the capacity to attract large numbers of tourists to the area and actively promotes the area as a prime tourist destination.
Holding events and community pride was a third focus. The 1980s saw events such as the Taughannock Panfish Derby, Red Cross Bloodmobile drives, a Christmas decorating event, and Fourth of July fireworks. Just as in today’s Chamber, these events are and were created to serve the public and promote a positive image of Trumansburg.
“In a sense, they do more to ‘put us on the map’ than an actual map can do,” Owlett said.
While the events in Trumansburg have changed, they are a reflection of what is important to our area residents. WinterFest highlights community spirit. Porchfest features the vast talent of our community of musicians. The T-burg Crit brings excitement to our residents.
Last is the member brochure, which was created to give public recognition and exposure to businesses, as it was believed the majority of the membership had “little or nothing to do with tourism.”
The membership brochure continues to be an important part of Chamber membership, but it has evolved with the advent of social media and websites.
Online sources better highlight business information and increase availability to contact them. Although it still produces a member brochure, the Chamber knows that our businesses rely on tourists to survive.
As cliché as it is, it seems the more things change, the more things stay the same. Of course, this is due to the fact that change is cyclical, and while the concerns may be the same, it is the solutions that are different.
In its 100th year, the Chamber has updated branding and by-laws and has honed in membership benefits and board member job descriptions. In the coming year, we are hoping to support economic development, tourism and membership by continuing to employ an “Ambassador to Trumansburg,” who will focus on keeping social media promotions, the Chamber website and membership engagement on track.
This is already in process, and it is hoped that in the future the Chamber will be able to partner with the village, town and Tompkins County tourism in order to make this model sustainable. Trumansburg is changing, but it also remains the same.
To our businesses and residents, there is no other place like Trumansburg, which we are fortunate enough to call home. As we enter into the holiday season, I want to thank you all for supporting the Chamber, each other and our community. You help put Trumansburg on the map!
Vicious Fishes album release
Join Trumansburg band Vicious Fishes at the Cherry Art Space for the release of its album “Vicious Fishes” on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 8:30 p.m. There is a $5 suggested donation at the door, but no one will be turned away from this all-ages show.
Vicious Fishes is a four-piece band made up of friends from Trumansburg who love to play rock and roll of all types but draw most of their influence from punk rock. Members include Jonas Puryear and Liam McDonnell, class of 2018, and Zeb Whitford and Jakob Gould, class of 2019.
Please join the Trumansburg Community Choir for its winter concert on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday, Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. at The First Presbyterian Church of Ulysses, 69 E. Main St., Trumansburg. Admission is free, but donations are always appreciated. All ages are welcome!
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