Welcome to 2017!

Let Creativity Flow…

I have my health (well, other than being nearly 72 and have a shoulder/upper arm that aches) and lots of creativity. I live in a great apartment in a beautiful small city. I have family nearby and a beautiful extended family in various places across the country. Add plenty of friends and well…. it’s a good start to an awesome year!

At the same time, finances are tight, requiring some changes. Not so much in lifestyle, but in attitude and focus. So along with my previous post, I’ll also work to add a few consulting jobs to my monthly schedule. We all have our ‘needs’ to fill.

Then it’s time to let the creativity flow. There will be no stopping me this year. As I’ve said many times, “I’m at the shorter end of life’s stick.” So I’ve no time to dillydally. I’ll be adding another section/website 21millionstrong.com  Be watching for it. This site will be about small business, most especially those 21 million plus self-employed, the ones rarely included when the government talks about small business. But more of that in the future. By my birthday in February, I hope to have the site up and running.

In the meantime, I want to focus particularly on my own community here. I fell in love with Havre de Grace when I arrived in the area in 1996 at the age of 51. In ’97 I found the ‘little hobbit hole’ (apartment) where I could get a toehold and begin another journey in my zig-zag life. I had fallen in love with their Independence Celebration that included a week long carnival, wonderful parade, and stunning fireworks. I was hooked – a woman that never stayed at much of anything longer than 3 years, I’ve been here 19 as of this year!

In ’98 I first published a quarter-tab, semi-annual tourism publication titled “Lockhouse to Lighthouse.” I just felt that they didn’t know what they had here. The first issue had 91+ advertisers – all Havre de Grace. Awesome! The community responded with enthusiasm. Visitors loved it.

In 2006 I changed the publication to a full-color 8×10 magazine. Our community had changed and we were ready to embrace our new image. It grew. I grew. We gained a tourism office, a Main Street program, designated Arts & Entertainment District, to name a few things. I also had a website: havre de grace – the meeting place (name of Magazine as well) that was seeing 100,000 unique visitors  each year. Yes, I definitely loved our community.

In 2008, I published my last issue in the fall celebrating 10 years and sold the publication. It struggled for a couple years, but no one was able to quite keep it going. It’s sad because I think we need it as much today as we did in 1998, possibly more so. Main Street is technically defunct. A&E hanging in there. Tourism surviving. The grand Independence Celebration… well, we’ll see what happens this year.

But then, life IS change!

I’ve grown weary as many have who try to work within the system, volunteering, joining various organizations, helping where you can. But not falling into disillusion is challenging. I’ve wrestled with this the past year or so. Add my age and the feeling that you are given the polite ear as you to try to offer your wisdom and then a definite feeling of polite dismissal, well, like I’ve said, it’s hard not to fall into the trap of, “Oh well, I’ll just move on.”

But the last month or two as I’ve watched more changes and in some instances no changes, I’ve realized I don’t want to move on. I’ve decided to listen to a great quote from the TERMINATOR: “I’m old, I’m not obsolete.” In future posts, I’ll share my thoughts and concerns. I’ll do my best to offer those concerns with a positive approach. Admittedly, sometimes that is hard. But that’s my goal.

Music on the streets of Havre de Grace
Just a little music in the streets of Havre de Grace!

Here’s what I DO believe:

  • Havre de Grace is a beautiful city.
  • Our citizens are eager volunteers.
  • Our community is made up of hard-working families.
  • Our talent and future lies in our artists of every ilk.
  • Our neighborhoods where folks still sit on the front porch are part of our draw.
  • Our various events over the years have attracted many visitors including some who chose to stay!
  • Our variety of eateries is quite splendid for our size!
  • Our historic downtown and long list of historic buildings is a trust we are willing to keep.
  • Our museums are an amazing asset to our community and our visitors.
  • Our parks and waterfront add not only charm, a place for events, and green space, but also respite for our collective soul.

Here’s what I think we’re missing:

  • We don’t really have a plan; we haven’t really figured out what we want to be. We’ve been rather generic about that.
  • We don’t trust our artists. Their vision can bring renewed energy and life. It’s more than just art galleries and wall murals. So much more.
  • We spend too much time reinventing the wheel, starting anew, rather than building on a foundation.
  • We need to appreciate all the variables that make up our community and  weave them together.
  • Our marinas have weathered changes and have much to teach us. We need to listen.
  • Our downtown has a hard time accepting the reality of a changing economy, a changing shopper and their expectations.
  • We need to appreciate that a business is here to make a profit or it dies. (More in another post.)
  • Too much time spent on what someone else should do for us, when we have the talent to do for ourselves.
  • Communication is still sadly inept among many groups.

These are just a few of my January 1, 2017 thoughts. I’ll be writing about them in future posts with the hope that maybe it’ll start a conversation. Better yet, maybe others will voice their ideas and we’ll begin to create an energy that fills our community with life, our downtown with growth, our events with a new vitality, and an all-encompassing arts community that includes young and old, beginner and professional, and every type of creative energy out there!

Hopefully everything won’t get bogged down in committees and cliques. At our very best, possibly there will be room for all the cliques. (smile) Maybe we’ll each be willing to step out of our comfort zone and learn one new thing, change one habit or attitude, wrestle our demons. Maybe we’ll start being interested and sharing beyond just what matters to us individually. I think of so many things we might be, here are a few:

  • The friendliest small city in America
  • The city where past and future are represented in the present
  • The meeting place – yep,  my idea – and I can think of dozens of ways to use it – but that’ll be a post one day
  • The city that truly says WELCOME

Anyway, most important is that what ever we decide, we all buy into it. AND…. it’s an active/action phrase full of life and vitality and community! There you go, all you artists out there, let it flow! My greatest joy would be that we are the city that everyone else wants to copy!

To everyone, may you embrace change in 2017. In our personal lives as well as in our businesses and communities, if we want something to be different this year, we must be willing to do something differently!

In the meantime, you may enjoy one of my other loves: the stories of our community. Visit Havre de Grace Stories and listen to our weekly podcasts. The interviews are humorous and wise. They also help us to ’tilt our heads slightly and see things from a different perspective.” I encourage you to join the mailing list.

Till next post, let’s “Make is so…”

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