“You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” – Walt Disney
When you read the title of my column this morning, perhaps you are thinking, “She is going to talk about spring and glorious spring flowers.” And, you well know I could talk on that subject forever. However, while I always enjoy talking about spring and its magnificent bounty of blooms, today I want to talk about the promise that the rebirth of spring holds. New beginnings and “visions of things to come.”
Currently, we have some exciting things happening in Clarksburg, West Virginia. In our central business district, we have a lovely new coffee shop (receiving rave reviews), along with various activities planned throughout the year. Additionally, in the Spring of 2018, The Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center is scheduled to open. Truly, we have wonderful “visions of things to come.” New beginnings.
Our city is spending quite a large sum to bring the Performing Arts Center to fruition. The Robinson Grand is a special part of our history, and as the Performing Arts Center, it will play a vital role in our future. We must not let it fail. We want, and need it to flourish. However, it alone will not attract the people and additional new businesses our town needs to ensure its success. Beauty, however, is the key. Clarksburg has in place what many towns do not – beautiful architecture, nice walks and wide streets. But, we are sorely lacking in “pretty.” We need paint, elbow grease, trees, planters and flowers. And, soon.
In the book, “Walkable City,” by Jeff Speck, Mr. Speck talks about the one question he is so often asked when meeting with clients from various cities, “How can we attract corporations, citizens, and especially young, entrepreneurial talent?” And, he also talks about two questions he received from a once flourishing industrial town in Michigan. “How can we keep our children from leaving?” “How can we keep our grandchildren from leaving?” Mr. Speck tells us the answer to these questions are obvious. “Surveys show how creative-class citizens, especially millennials, vastly favor communities with street life, the pedestrian culture that can only come from walkability.” And, do these people who enjoy walking about town, eating in lovely places and attending performances of marvelously talented people, want to do so in a town void of beauty? No, absolutely they do not.
So, here are a few thoughts I want to share. You well know I have talked you to death about the importance of taking good care of our homes. Now, more than ever, this is critical. The future of our community is at stake. Visitors are coming to town, and soon. And, everyone knows when you have company you get ready. You make your guests feel welcome and you wear your best dress. It is written in the manual. Now, don’t panic, I am not suggesting we go into town, sweep, paint, plant flowers and do much of what is needed. However, we can do these very things in and around our own homes. We can make the streets where we live sparkle, shine and bloom alive with color. We can sweep the walk in front of our homes, pick up the cigarette butts, and do the same for your neighbor. Yes, we can! And furthermore, we all have a voice. When we see an area of town that requires attention, we can phone appropriate city offices, write letters (letters have power), and we can vote. We vote, because we simply must have leaders who share this vision, and have the future of our community as their priority.
Of major importance: Most often, prospective new business owners require housing. Our neighborhoods will be under their scrutiny. When they, our guests, see our streets blooming, it will encourage them to give our town a chance. Because, you see, these people understand beauty. And, these are the very people we want to attract. They will open lovely, unique specialty shops. They know how, and will make their shops beautiful. Inside, as well as outside. Therefore, creating beauty in our town. Once again, “the ripple effect of beauty.”
In closing, this is a very special column for me. I believe and know my words to be true. I have had the great fortune to have lived my entire life in beauty, and I well understand and know its power. Clarksburg is my home, it is where I was raised, it is where my husband and I have retired and it is dear to my heart. Clarksburg can be a stunningly, beautiful town once again. Everything is in place for the transformation to happen. This is our big chance to bloom and we must not lose it. And, as Mr. Disney tells us, “it requires people to make the dream a reality.”
Wishing you and yours a beautiful spring.
Author’s Notes: I want to sincerely thank Andrew Walker and the staff of The Clarksburg Post for the wonderful opportunity they have given me by allowing me to write this column. I do hope it has been inspirational for you, my dear readers. It has been quite rewarding for me. However, it is time for me to take care of our home and our precious gardens. Remember, we have company coming, and I must practice what I preach. Therefore, this is my final column, but I do hope you will follow me on my blog, “Maison De Jardin by Sandra,” at http://whereinspirationblooms.com
About Jeff Speck, author of “Walkable City.” Mr. Speck is a city planner who advocates smart growth and sustainable design. He is the former director of design at the National Endowment for the Arts, he oversaw the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, and he leads a design practice based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he was coauthor of the landmark bestseller, “Suburban Nation.”