One of the positive consequences of a shared trauma like Hurricane Michael is an even more powerful collective commitment to a common goal.

Indeed, the arrival of such a watershed opportunity ushers in a promise for the future and an important sense of closure for the past. To that end, we are proud to report that beginning on Tuesday, the City of Panama City’s long-term pivot to the future will accelerate with our Charrette Week and the events surrounding the development of our Downtown Master Plan. A complete description and calendar is available at www.rebuildpc.org.

To drive this process forward we have assembled a dynamic team of professionals – from urban planners and redevelopment design experts to economic and recovery professionals – to guide our efforts. And without question, the single most important stakeholder in this process is every single one of you – the residents and representatives of our community. With your input, we have a once in a lifetime blank canvas on which to draw, literally, the contours of our new community.

Using advanced computer-assisted design technology, one of the individual Charrette sessions (Monday, June 17 th from 6 – 9 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Panama City, 640 Grace Ave.) will focus on a hands-on design session to help shape the face of what our new downtown will look like, how we’ll all interact there, and what we can add that will truly make our hometown bigger, better, and stronger.

Running on parallel tracks throughout this week will be town hall meetings and focus group meetings that drill down on the critical areas that we know will be the foundation of our renewal, including housing, economic development, the arts, education, transportation, as well as individual ward recovery plan meetings.

Equally important will be the Work-in-Progress Presentation on Friday, June 21 st (and the recap on Saturday, June 22 nd ) that will showcase all of the project work that has been done to date and present the opportunity for feedback from the community on their evaluation of these efforts to ensure that we are on the right track.

Of course, all of these events are open to everyone free of charge. As daunting as the challenge to rebuild our city is, it pales in comparison to the hope and promise that together we can be the architects of that future.

You’ve heard me say it before – and I’ll happily repeat it again: the City of Panama City’s not so secret weapon is our community’s commitment and strength of character. Every one of us can be catalyst for the change we want, and I invite you all to be a part of it.

Greg Brudnicki is the Mayor of the City of Panama City.