Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

9 June 2010

Today is a GOOD DAY for Brantford

At 10:52 AM Tuesday morning, the first bricks fell to the ground as the demolition of the south side of Colborne Street began. To say this has been a touchy issue over the last 6 months would be quite an understatement.

There have been good people and dumb people making both quality and poor arguments on both sides of the debate. Long before this present reality, I have supported the demolition and rebuilding/re-dreaming of this stretch of buildings downtown. I have my reasons. And they are good reasons. I also have good friends who hold very strongly opposing views. Many of their points were well thought out too.

Even though I'm happy about the direction it did go, to be honest, I wouldn't have been crestfallen if they had kept the buildings and restored them either. Because buildings are just bricks. They are not everlasting entities. Material should never be the master of people. I continue to maintain a city is ABOUT it's people. A building's role (new or old) is to facilitate the prosperity of it's inhabitants. If a piece of soulless substance doesn't do that... it doesn't serve it's purpose.

Regardless of your opinion or my opinion about this SPECIFIC issue, (and there was no RIGHT or WRONG answer... we all just have opinions) a decision was made. By the end of the summer the largest black mark on our city for the last 30 years will be gone.

Today is June 9th 2010. It is quite literally the beginning of a new era in Brantford's history. No one can argue this point. Change IS happening. It's what we've ALL desired, worked for, even prayed about. We ALL knew that change needed to happen. And it's VERY good.

Here's where you're going to feel tempted resume the fight. To bring up where the first head of lettuce was sold within 6 miles of the Grand River, or to weep about where the poor study-weary teens will play squash with a river-view. Keep smiling. Resist it. Don't give into the temptation to write that pessimism-laced Facebook quip about Brantford's demise in the heat of the moment. That's what the National media did about our "awful downtown" when it was in ruins... and now again for the remedy to the ills that stopped them from coming and caring in the first place. That's a lot of gall and giving into that is skeptical hopelessness... and our city deserves better.

Brantford... let's speak up (sorry... had to). We have a clean slate. A blank canvass and a growing army of passionate dreamers who hopefully can now come together to build... in a hopeful way.

Today is a GOOD DAY in Brantford. But then again, if we choose to look deep enough, we'll see that there is more good than not in most days. But we MUST persist in participating in this good. Every time I sit down with 30 and 40 something leaders in politics, business, communication and faith... we come to the common conclusion that Brantford (here and now), is a place of great opportunity. It's a place where people with vision, who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work/invest long term, WILL create what this city looks like for the next 100 years. This isn't true of every city here and now. It is of Brantford.

Last night I sat in my living room with a couple other visionaries and wrote about, plotted direction for, and layed out actualization plans for a Kindness Project that will instigate a new untapped level of synergy and interconnectedness
between multiple areas of influence in our city... based around making a mutually beneficial kindness commitment. Changing a city BY good INTO good. Using time, energy AND MATERIAL to help prosper the people in our city.

I think that TODAY a great day. It's the first day of a new Era. But today... just like yesterday... your city is what you put into it.


David Wierzbicki said...

I appreciate your desire to unify and move forward and you are correct that there is no right or wrong answer, just whatever good we put into the situation.

But then you state as a fact that this ends a 30 year black mark on Brantford's past. Not everyone thinks that Colborne St. has been simply a stain. James St. N. in Hamilton is considered by many to have been such a stain. Luckily, folks similar to us naysayers and progress-impeders were listened to and it is fast becoming a rich garden of arts, heritage, and culture. Not that this has to be the solution here, we just wish that such a solution could have at least been given a moment's consideration.

This might be a good day (I do still have hope that something wonderful will be built that will encourage community growth and possibly a new cultural generation) but it isn't a happy day. Mourning is a necessary part of the process. Yes, these are only materials but they DO have a certain kind of soul. There is value and love and history. I feel a friendship with the shapes of the street that will soon not be there.

Please allow people their mourning. The process of the past 7 months has been devious, hidden, and divisive and anyone with an alternative vision has been handed nothing but insults.

Dave Carrol said...

Please don't mistake this post as an insult (I don't think you are but just in case). But I actually think the insults and accusations have been handed out pretty generously on both sides of the discussion. I think it polarized BOTH sides.

I get what you're saying Dave... really honestly do. I am speaking as someone who does appreciate historical value... but 80% of the conversations I've had in my adult life about my hometown which I've chosen to stay in and invest in... I've heard about the horrible downtown. Right up including Saturday afternoon in the square, one of the artists Alex brought in to perform from the stage was talking about the scary beast on the left.

I know I'm not telling you anything you don't know here nor I am attempting to gloat or rob the mourning process. And I do think it could have been a something where more people rallied behind if it were done differently. I wish it was too.

But there is a legit point that it was left to rot and it took this type process to stir up passions again.

I think one side unfairly has labeled those in favor of restoration as standing in the way of progress just as I think that the other side has unfair labeled those in favor of demolition (and honestly man... I think this is the vast majority of the city) as heartless.

Sometimes things aren't worth restoring. I do think this will serve our city well to dream together and create something new in such a prominent place. Fresh starts are good too.

Dave Carrol said...

Let me add if I didn't say it... that I greatly value the work you guys are doing in the community.

David Wierzbicki said...

Dave, I'm glad for your voice in this. I don't believe you mean to insult at all.

And I agree with you, the level of discourse on both sides has often been considerably less than helpful. I've done my best to stay away from vilifying "the six" and I'm sorry for any time I've failed. In a 'crisis' kindness is often the first thing to be forgotten and the one thing most needed.

I know of many young creatives that were previously so energized by the possibilities for the arts here but have been so disheartened by this process that they are considering moving to a city that "gets it."

Dave Carrol said...

I figured as much would happen... but it seems like such a rash and short-sighted judgment (the moving because of the demolition).

Especially when you consider the fact that young, bright voices (in many areas of the community) can have such a great scale of voice here rather than being one of many elsewhere.

There are opportunities to be creative in new and old buildings... even if it takes being creative to find ways to do it.

David Wierzbicki said...

What Brantford currently lacks are networks and hubs of creative energy. That is why a larger city can be more attractive to creative folk. On your own you will get lost, but there are places in toronto like the Centre for Social Innovation http://socialinnovation.ca/ where small groups of creatives can find similar energy and sustain each other. In Brantford, there is a feeling among many that it is "just us."

These hubs are beginning to develop in Brantford (arts block, etc) but even in a city the size of brantford, one person working independent of the community (especially counter-culturally) doesn't have much more of a voice than they would in toronto.

And perceived defeats are magnified here so can be even more deflating.

Dave Carrol said...

Well then we should talk and strategize further.

Because there does have be to bridges built between sectors and different areas of passion to be able to best facilitate each other's (to get Christiany) "gifting".

Really... we should talk about this.

David Wierzbicki said...

absolutely. it is a shame that we haven't really connected yet.

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