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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Whatever You Do, Don't!

There's a motivational poster we all know, or should. The image is of a basketball, at rest on the foul line of a hardwood court, with a backboard, rim and net above and beyond it. Underneath is written, "You'll miss every shot you never take." I wonder sometimes if art imitates life or vice versa, especially when I look at Norwich.

So often, perhaps too often, here every attempt to take a chance, try something different or look at a process in a new way is greeted with a chorus of voices working to shout down whoever wants to try something new. As reported in last Tuesday's newspaper, a native son returnee is pressing ahead to realize a personal dream and open a coffee house in downtown Norwich, inside the Otis Library. John Manuel Andriote has written more books than I will ever read (I stole this line from Jeff) but I suspect I've got serious game when it comes to drinking coffee.

But, while I love the java jive, I'd never have the courage to risk opening a business, making my living operating such a shop. The comments of on-line readers reacting to the notion of someone succeeding in downtown Norwich were eye-opening, to say the least as if success is somehow rationed and should his idea catch fire, someone else's dream might not be fulfilled. It seemed, as happens so often, for me to look good, you (whoever you are) need to look bad and I can only be happy when you fail. There's a philosophy to light the world.

Did you know, ten days ago, the Norwich Bowling and Entertainment Center successfully concluded its
third consecutive Professional Bowlers Association Match Play event? Perhaps you caught some of the action on ESPN. Yeah, it happened in Norwich, of all places, because people with a plan and a willingness to accept risk, made it happen. You don't have to enjoy two-tone bowling shoes or know how to pick up a 7-10 split to recognize and celebrate what happened, and it's about time we started keeping track of following through and following up.

On the other hand, at the harbor's edge, after a decade and a half of paralysis by analysis, the beginnings of the
Regional Intermodal Transportation Center are discernible, even if the discussion on how to use it as a fulcrum for further development, hasn't reached critical mass. Perhaps another study is what we need, with a focus group comprised of people who don't have any actual real world experience in whatever the current issue is, but who are members of whichever party is in power because meritocracy is so over-rated.

Someone once told me if we put all the downtown Norwich development plans and plan writers end to end they still wouldn't reach a conclusion. We do what we do because we always have, which is why we always will. And that’s the trouble. Too much dreaming and not enough doing. Too many homefires burning and not enough trees.

There are opportunities for success in Norwich, professionally, financially, personally but each of us, in our own way, has to take the first step and be willing to accept the consequences, positive and negative, for our own actions. If you're waiting for an invitation to get started, you're already behind. How will we build tomorrow when we can't finish today?
-bill kenny

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