Friends and associates in a vast array of circles likely tire of me talking about the fantastic things happening in Brantford. Some have told me so. Some I can just sense it in for a number of not very good reasons. Reasons like:
- I choose to be negative about my city
- I don't believe it's as good as you think it is
- I'm mad that it's not happening in MY city
- You're not unique because it IS happening in MY city too
- Dave... you talk too much
Only the last one has any legitimacy, but these are not unfamiliar sentiments.
There is mutual agreement among those of us who are working hard to bring a holistic (Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts) renewal to our city that the biggest issue that IS being overcome, but has held our city back, is what we think/speak/believe our city. For many years it was drastically negative. Too many conversations started with:
"Well since 'The Combine' left town..."
... referencing the loss of Massey Ferguson in the early 80's that did lead to quite a number of bleak economic years. But it's been MANY years since 'The Combine' left town. Today's Brantford is not the Brantford of the 60's and 70's. In fact... it's better. Because today we have a talented group of passionate young thinkers reinventing a city for the 21st Century... committed to valuing EACH area of influence and working TOGETHER.
Last week, our mayor held a breakfast meeting and invited leaders from many areas of the community to which I was thrilled to be included. Leaders from business, politics, social service, the private & public sector, the Church and more sat around tables and brainstormed the best things about Brantford. It was an exercise aimed at getting on the same page, understanding each other, and coming up with positive statements we could ALL begin to galvanize around to fuel the task of changing the way our city thinks/speaks/believes about itself and is perceived in the nation abroad.
We heard this from MP Phil McColeman that Brantford already has a fantastic reputation on a national stage.
This city is KNOWN in our nation as a wonderful place where small town humility & charm mixes with forward thinking and progress. A true gem— Phil McColeman (@Phil4Brant) March 20, 2012
We heard from the arts community that is finding the city is anxious and hungry for cultural development. On the church front, as I've written about many times, we're seeing an unprecedented level unity among churches combined with a desire to serve the city that is gaining the attention of the church community on a national level. I personally shared the story of 3 couples I sat down with within a week's time-span who are young, professional, new residents to the city. All 3 echoed astoundingly similar sentiments.
"It's a lovely place to live. Kind people... and it's big enough to be big but small enough to feel small. I love it here"
For me... this was invigorating to hear because over the last decade, MANY of us have worked in various sectors of the community (sometimes in obscurity) to see the transformation of our city's "feel". For people with no past-baggage to see it, revel in it and be even telling friends about it unprovoked... it was significant for me.
After the mayor's breakfast was over, the idea's phrasing came out like this:
Brantford: Small Town Feel, Big City Vibe.— Mayor Chris Friel (@MayorChrisFriel) March 20, 2012
I watched community leaders Tweeting it, Facebooking it and even heard them discussing it at coffee shops. It began discussions and in some cases even arguments as it confronted some of the contrary negative philosophies listed above. But it's to be expected for when men are challenged to speak life instead of the habitual death we're accustomed to sometimes; it's initially an internal conflict. But it's POWERFUL when we rise above it.
Proverbs 18:21 says:
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
I think it goes both ways. Speaking LIFE brings life to both you, and that which you speak it about. Speaking death... well... I'll let you do the math. As for me and my hometown. I CHOOSE to speak, believe and LIVE life fully and free. Today the Downtown BIA asked the question, "Why do you love Brantford?" Here was my answer.
@downtownbrantfd Because I CHOSE to.I think love is a choice & when I chose to make it "home" I chose to love it & work to make it amazing— Dave Carrol (@davecarrol) March 29, 2012
Small town feel... Big city vibe.
I believe my city is a prosperous city.
Pass it on.