Catalyst Interview Series: Sheila Costigan
KCCI Tallahassee: Describe your past involvement with KCCI?
Sheila Costigan: I was on the Get Gaines Going project as part of the first class of KCCI Community Catalysts. To this day, it remains one of my proudest involvements in this community. As you know, Gaines has come a long way – it was neglected and in disrepair for several years. About seven of us put our minds, muscles and might together to jump start the ever-evolving Gaines Street that we know and love today.
KCCI: Tell me about the mission behind Get Gaines Going?
SC: Gaines Street had become an eyesore. Our class of Community Catalysts felt we needed to convince the city to consider working on a refurbished Gaines Street sooner than later. It involved delegating duties amongst ourselves and working with the Army Corps of Engineers, city hall, the Department of Transportation, local colleges and the existing businesses on the Gaines corridor. Every single week we were down at city hall working with these leaders – we wanted this street to become a hallmark of Tallahassee and for its citizens to feel proud.
KCCI: What did you learn through the course of this project?
SC: The three words that come to mind are “collaborate,” “compromise,” and “commit.” Collaboration gave me a real sense of patience and an understanding that there are many solutions to consider other than your own. Then there’s compromise – we knew that we needed to be able to move forward despite challenges along the way. We also had to be committed – we could not give up, we didn’t take no for an answer and we had to take time from our professional and personal lives to work with the city to make the best of the situation.
KCCI: What comes to mind when you see Gaines Street today?
SC: Pride for our community and respect for the city. Just like us, they said, “we’re going to do this and we’re going to do this right!” And they did. We were the Catalysts and did not give up our vision but thanks to people like CRA director Roxanne Manning, our ideas came to fruition.
KCCI: What are some of your favorite spots in Tallahassee?
SC: My favorite places to go are the waterways – I love all the rivers that surround us and, of course, having the coast nearby. I’m excited about the area’s coast-to-coast initiatives with bikeways and greenways that will soon connect Wakulla and Leon County in new ways. We’re all proud of our fellow Catalysts with Cascades Park, but I also can’t forget to mention Tom Brown Park.
KCCI: Who should consider becoming a Catalyst?
SC: Catalysts definitely need to have a passion for change and a vision in mind. They’re not coming in to be followers – Catalysts are leaders. On the other hand, they also have to be realistic, do their research and be willing to commit an ample amount of time. KCCI becomes your priority – that commitment is absolutely essential. Above all, the most important quality is patience.