Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bring Some Cheese

It's human nature, I guess, to accept what we have, forget what once was and to yearn for more even when our bellies are full and our pockets are filled. 

I realized that again last week when I ran an errand to the Norwichtown Commons as I was on my way home. I crossed the bridge on Town Street and paused for a moment in unhappy surprise at the large number of cars in the parking lot stretching from the Stop and Shop to the Planet Fitness.  

I shouldn't have been surprised. I've had a similar reaction before when I forget where I am and when I am there. Once I recovered from my surprise I laughed at how spoiled rotten I am. I wonder if I'm alone but suspect I'm not.

For years, as the Norwichtown Mall died by degrees I worried. No matter how much I fretted, it continued to disappear. And when all that was left was a handful of businesses, I sniffed in a superior manner (you may have heard me, I do it frequently for little to no reason according to my wife) and with a sigh pronounced myself done with it.  

And now, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees or the cars for the full parking lot. My blinding glimpse of the obvious was made even more so by my forgetfulness of what had been and my willful blindness in not seeing progress where leaps and bounds had been made. 

My complaint about the formally moribund mall was now a self-pitying bleat about where was I going to park and how far would I have to walk to get to the store. In short, I had become that guy who would complain if you hanged me with a new rope (and complain wasn't my first choice of verbs), though I'm not sure there is a rope store at the Norwichtown Commons (but you can probably get some in Big Lots). 

All my hand-wringing (okay, our hand-wringing) about economic development in Chelsea, efforts on repurposing and developing brownfields throughout the city, and often competing theories for attracting new businesses often conspire and combine to create just enough distractions we lose sight of those gains we have made. 

Pick a neighborhood, or a village since so many of us still think in those terms, and compare who we are and where we are now to five years ago or maybe even a decade ago. I’m not suggesting everything’s swell but we’re making progress even if it’s not at a pace that pleases everyone. And we will make more working hard together.

No, we're not where we want to be, at least not everywhere and certainly not yet. And our mileage may vary in some instances, but I keep coming back to the Norwichtown Commons versus the Norwichtown Mall. You'll have your own example as a goal and reference point. 

It’s easier to reach for tomorrow if you are willing to let go of the past.
-bill kenny



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