Archive for February 15th, 2009

It’s been a while since I felt like writing. After huge writer’s block around the state of the city address, I wondered if I’d ever be compelled to write again. Then I read today’s editorial in the local paper. I was definitely amused and am now quite grateful. I’ve discovered my voice again.

I found it silly, really, that the editorial would start off identifying several significant positives about the community and then finish off by rebuking efforts to promote them.

The tone and content of the editorial speak volumes about the very attitude we need to overcome in this community – that the small percentage of rundown real estate in the city is all we are and we may as well give up before we’ve even tried to be different. The truth is we have plenty to celebrate, advocate for and nurture in these endeavors. Again, (and again and again) we have an attractive location regionally; access to transportation along road, rail and river; cultural and recreational opportunities; an established infrastructure that we are improving; a generous supply of water; affordable residential, commercial and industrial real estate; and beautiful neighborhoods with great neighbors that treasure family, friendship and their community.

We don’t need to fool anyone. How dare the paper would intimate otherwise. Every resident in Amsterdam should be offended.

We are being courted by developers and businesses from outside of the region. They see us for our potential. Why can’t we? The need for marketing is as much an inside job as it is to bring folks from elsewhere. We’ve got to quash the desire to keep putting ourselves down. We must change this habit more than any other physical reality in the city. I’ve said it a thousand times: stop focusing on the flaws and acknowledge the beauty of this community. Our positives far outweigh our negatives. Think about it, would Marilyn Monroe have amounted to anything if we had all continuously stared at her mole?

Do we need to do more work? Hell, yes. We’ve got to be ready for what we will realize in the way of revitalization and growth. Again (and again and again) we’ve got to identify who we’re going after, what they want from us, what we need to change and what we will promote. We need incentives for residential and commercial redevelopment. We need a streamlined zoning and permitting process. We need a dynamic community and economic development effort partnering with the County, MCCC, GASD, FMCC, AIDA, AHA and URA. We need to cleanup our blighted areas through code enforcement. We need to foster neighborhood leadership and regular ward meetings. We need to aggressively pursue goals articulated in our Comprehensive Plan.

What we don’t need is more of the same. We’ve seen where that’s gotten us.

I actually laughed out loud when I read that we should wait to market. It’s not time to wait. We must keep pushing ahead. Our future will not come to us in a linear thread; it must be orchestrated in one splendid symphony of activity. Will this operatic crescendo happen overnight? No, but it is happening. After years of decline, we are changing our fortunes and finally making a little music. Let’s follow that tune.

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