Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Words and Deeds

As has been pointed out to me, repeatedly (at times, unceasingly), I didn't grow up in Norwich, the city in which I and my family now live, but Norwich is as much my home as anywhere I've ever been and more so than most. I'm certainly not oblivious to our challenges and areas needing in improvement but I choose to focus my efforts more on the distance we've covered than to dread the journey still before us.

Too often we talk a good game but aren't as good at walking the walk as we are at talking the talk. We claim to understand the value of long term incremental economic growth and continual improvements in our communities' and neighborhoods' quality of life but we continue to be most impressed by shiny steel, sparkling glass, boxes of bricks and bags of mortar.

I understand the appeal, it's rooted in our human nature. Major League Baseball has a Home Run Derby with a sell-out crowd every year as part of the All-Star Game weekend. They don't hold a suicide squeeze bunt or who-can-advance-the-runner-to-second competition.

But still, we can fixate on big things and convince ourselves big must be better than not big and the bigger a project is the more important it must be. Except, sometimes size really doesn't matter, and the impact isn't always proportional. Ask anyone who's ever seen an iceberg. Especially from a ship.

Monday night (and you can go back to the newspaper articles and count the words), the Mayor's annual State of the City speech was the most important part of the City Council's first meeting of 2013. And it was an important part (see what I did there with the definite and indefinite articles? Sister Mary Jean taught me that) but while the Mayor's vision is important, just as important, though much more quiet, was the approval of loan agreements for Norwich Public Utilities to upgrade infrastructure for the municipal water system.

And there two other resolutions, one tasking the Norwich Community Development Corporation to plan and implement (two words not often used together in Norwich) the Norwich Manufacturing Investment Program-that's still to be discussed and decided- and another creating a Downtown Steering Committee to (finally) answer the "shouldn't there be somebody doing that?" question everyone has always had.

I don't imagine we're ever going to have signs boasting to visitors that we're "Proud of Our Drinking Water and Sewers" but we'd better be, because if we intend to entice future residents and businesses to "Choose Norwich" we'll need those utilities.

And unless we think all of these new arrivals are going to stick around while we talk about "the future of Norwich" then we need to build a plan today and then use that plan to build tomorrow.
-bill kenny

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