Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Albert's Rose City Adventure

Try as hard as you can, and you'll never outrun your own shadow or your own past. In a sense, everything we are or will ever be is really the sum of what we were when were were a younger version of ourselves. I mention this because between now and the November elections, reaching from the strastopheric heights of the Office of the President to the speck of dust level that is decisions about local bonding initiatives, we will struggle with choosing between different versions of different visions of who we would like to be as a city.

I promise here and now to not lecture or hector you about your choices or advocate for mine in regards to any of the elected offices especially since opinions are like noses; everyone has one and they all smell (you were thinking lower?).

I will however have no qualms about discussing water and glasses and when the latter is half full of the former or when we decide it's half-empty, particularly when we're examining the bonding proposal for construction of the new police station within the overall downtown Norwich Economic Revitalization effort.

For the two decades I and my family have lived here, Chelsea has looked basically the same as it looks now, perhaps a little less plywood where shop windows once were, otherwise steady as she goes.

For those who've lived here longer, perhaps a lot longer, looking at downtown today may pain you greatly and your idea of downtown revitalization and mine could well be very dissimilar (and probably are). Where you seek a return of destination stores with names from your childhood, I'll settle for small shops with local owners offering various artisan goods and someplace to enjoy a meal and a night out with old friends I've just met on a Friday night. It's a tense situation. You and I see two cities where there can only be one, past perfect and future perfect.

If we are both only willing to support only our vision of "The City" we're fated for continuous conflict and disappointment because in a zero-sum game, there are only winners and losers, while in a collaborative effort, everyone wins even if not all the time or as much as they want.

The same city can hold different meaning and value for different people-no one is right and no one is wrong-the versions are pieces of the same puzzle, ideally complementing one another on their way to being something of value in itself and to those who use it. Where we start out and how has a great deal to do with where we end up and why.

To my knowldge there is the only observation made by Albert Einstein about Norwich (and any small town whose past seems grander than its future) but you have to be careful because he cleverly uses 'fish' instead of our name, I guess for a more universal appeal:

"Everyone is a genius," he once said, "but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, the fish will live its whole life believing it is stupid." Too bad this isn't Friday, right? There's a place downtown with terrific seafood. Pass the tartar sauce.            
-bill kenny

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