I am so grateful to live in a town that honors and protects the spirit of community. While development creeps down the Valley, to our once sleepy mountain town, our community has done its best to work together to define what we want our town to represent.
We are a pretty eclectic bunch here. Hippies, ranchers, artists, upwardly mobile young hip folks, techies, and solar entrepreneurs just to name a few-with a plethora of very eager realtors sprinkled in to keep things interesting-as you might imagine. You name it, we have it and we really do try to hear one another and get along.
Our town is booming. Real estate has become untouchable in the last 6 months and once again, I find myself battling with the notion of leaving a place I love that is becoming unaffordable. I am one of the lucky ones. We got in the market 20 years ago, but many others are not as fortunate. Many of those who were born here, can’t afford to buy here, so many talk of leaving.
It is not the first time this has happened to a place I have loved and call home. As an artist, we tend to gravitate to those places as yet undefined. We see the diamond within the rough stone. We gravitate to these places, because we see like-minded people, or even because we are invested in being part of a place that is just a bit on the edge. We help create exceptional places to live and then the realtors and developers say, "WOW, what an awesome place, lets get some money flowing here."
I have lived near places like Coconut Grove, Key West and in a small Western Florida town called Davie. All of these towns are now concrete malls and I personally don’t even waste my time visiting them anymore when I return to Florida. Davie was once filled with the intoxicating scent of acres of orange groves and horses were hitched to posts on the streets. Now, it is literally a super highway and strip malls. I could not even find my way to my old home because they had plunked the highway and ramp right in the middle of the town.
A few years ago, when a big box was attempting to push its way into town. Our town was literally split in half. Those who wanted the "quick income stream," and those who were adamantly opposed.
In the end the box was voted down, yet a remarkable thing transpired. The two opposite sides came together to form a Road Map Committee. Putting their differences aside in deference to community spirit, they worked as a team to design a plan to present to our Mayor and City Council. The plan was nothing short of remarkable and yet our Mayor and City Council, continue to look for the quick fix as another big box is on the table-despite our towns vote several years ago. It was a bit of a slap in the face to a year of looking to positive solutions, yet most of those committee members are still in involved and in continued conversation with our town leaders. Now that to me is the ultimate definition of community.
With the idea of community comes responsibility and last night’s beautiful May Day First Friday’s reminded me of what can happen when we all come together to create something really special. It was fabulous to see the Carbondale Middle School kids swarming the street. The art and performances were simply phenomenal and the teachers and all involved are to be congratulated. First Friday’s has grown tremendously since the early days when I was on the committee. It is quite the event.