Wednesday, December 15, 2010

As Long As You and I Are Here

Someone told me when my family and I were new to The Rose of New England that 'Norwich will be a really nice city if they ever get it finished.' The implication, I assume, was that we were, and remain, very good at beginnings, but come up a little short on endings (in terms of both quality and quantity).

A lot of that is the nature of the beast, the culture in which we live. In recent years, the only thing we seem to hate paying more than taxes is attention. We've become people who expect a pop-tart setting on our microwaves because the toaster just takes just too darn long.

Look at the calendar.
Six weeks ago, we approved a bond issue to spur economic development for downtown. Some of us are already like those four year olds in the second seat of the mini-van heading for Grandma's for the holidays, 'are we there yet?' And truth to tell, we're not. But cool your jets-we didn't wind up with a grand list flat lined and a forest of 'for sale' signs in neighborhoods across the city overnight and the way back on the road ahead won't happen by the time I start the next paragraph.

Though that would be cool, I suppose. And, admit it, a piece of you wanted it to be because hope springs eternal, which is good since we need a certain amount of confidence and optimism in the efforts being made by community leaders as they continue to make Norwich a (better) home for those of us who live here and for those who will one day join us.

But hope is not a plan. A plan has specific, measurable, achievable, realistic targets-which is why SMART communities have plans and too many others have hope but little else. Planning involves candor-we need to be honest with one another, to speak in clear language that doesn't need a decoder ring and where yes and no are clearly and universally understood. We need to accept that it's okay to disagree without becoming disagreeable-to evaluate an idea and not the person who offers it.

We need to trust one another to bring our individual best effort to the rest of our community so we more successfully turn your idea into our goal. But we must be here now, in person and in spirit so that recent weekend meetings on the state of the state's budget and a conversation with the Mayor and city leaders has more than a dozen and a half people. Questions are integral to the process of rebuilding Norwich-and sticking around for the answers, even if that means more questions, is the rest of the equation.

Norwich, like the rest of our country and the world is becoming someplace else, someplace new and, depending on how we manage change, hopefully someplace better. Whether you arrived in the ship they called the Mayflower, or had it on the side of your moving van, we are all here now and each of us owns the next Norwich, whatever it is to be. We still welcome people who mean well, but more than that, we need those who do well. You may as well start to roll up your sleeves now, because we're going to need everyone's help.
-bill kenny

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