Something is happening that is puzzling me but I am glad for it. This small city of less than 50,000, which saw its heyday back in the 1950s and early 1960s, is waking up. It looked like it was stuck in time when I got here.
When I moved here five years ago I saw things with my urban planning training. Some very obvious gaffs that had been made over time…. Interstate highway routing was one and letting the merchants downtown forbid a mall to be built was the other. The town ended up with several long access points to the highway and the mall was built in the next town over and this city lost all the business AND the tax revenue.
So when a small group of people started gathering, calling themselves Chat N Chew, I was intrigued. I saw individuals stand up and say ” I have an idea” and others said “Great!” Then came “Who do I need to talk to at City Hall for permission.” And the people who understood the system replied “No one, just do it.”
And they did and still do. We won a major grassroots effort for a dog park and the fencing is almost complete. There are a number of project ongoing, including graffiti and tagging clean-up, identifying needed locations for bike racks, and the establishment of a local food hub.
Chat N Chew helps sponsor monthly Cash Mobs that warns a small business that there will people showing up on a designated day each month. A couple of guys put together and held the first of many hoped for Art Walks, providing artists and artisans a free venue while persuading shops to stay open late once night a month (now) with the increased foot traffic the art show provides.
There’s a way to go but what is clear is the ball is rolling. People who choose to be involved citizens can be at whatever level is comfortable. And those that are not active can come out and support the local businesses.
This is my town….and could be yours, if you are lucky to have people with insight and excitement as well.