And Now, the Complaining Starts
A smaller group showed up for last night’s final session of the downtown visioning project. Julie Fitzpatrick from the PA Downtown Center went over her slides again, unveiled a vision statement and directed us into groups to try and get some momentum on specific issues, such as marketing and asset identification.
But the real fun is happening outside of the room with the requisite negativity already under way. Two folks, one of whom was at the meeting, have already chimed in with their skepticism about the whole process on my Facebook page.
I don’t have a completely negative view of skepticism. A healthy dose is important to any process. But you need to mix the skepticism with some realism and a little bit of idealism. That’s how this process will benefit downtown.
The key lies in not letting the negativity take over. At the first meeting, two older women sat up front, refused to take part in any of the group activities and wouldn’t even sign the attendance sheet. The second meeting featured a couple at my table who left shortly after they realized the night didn’t just serve as a place to complain about things they didn’t like downtown. I didn’t hear as much last night, but there’s still a lingering cloud of “Why even try?”
You know why? Because you should want to live in a nice place. Hanover is a nice place, but it has its challenges. Instead of throwing up your arms and saying “something like this didn’t work 10 years ago,” why not get together with people and find ways that won’t give fuel to the notion that nothing will work?
Or you can sit on the sidelines – or even get in the middle of the fray – and just complain. I’ll be the one countering your negativity. I’ll be the one pointing out positive things that are already going on or potential solutions to what you call impossible. I’m not naive. I know lots of work remains, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit around and let negativity rule the day.
Chalk It Up has had two solid years as a positive community event. Music and Art in the Park wasn’t big, but it happened and will hopefully grow. Sure, Alex’s Pizza closed, but Warehouse Craft Brewing is coming and I hope the long-rumored improvements at the Winner’s Circle will come to fruition. Maybe something will happen at the old Moose Lodge. And there’s the heritage/conference center proposal still out there slowly gaining steam.
So keep telling me nothing will improve downtown. You have probably created a standard in your head that no one could possibly ever meet just so you can complain and say you were “right.” Changes have already started, no matter what the naysayers think. That makes me more excited to keep pushing harder.