• Come Shop with Me

    And afterwards, let’s go to the theater.


    Being a good leader requires remembering that you're there for a reason, and the reason certainly isn't to have your way. High-integrity leaders not only welcome questioning and criticism - they insist on it." - Travis Bradberry
    My cycle-pieces regarding my vision for Clarksburg, West Virginia is almost complete. This is Part III. Part IV, “Next week, let’s go to a City Council Meeting” will appear – ‘next week.’ That will conclude my cycle. Well, maybe ‘conclude’ is rather strong, but at least I am giving up my soap box for a while - to wait, measure, record, and evaluate.
    First things first: I applaud what my elected leaders and behind-the-scene leaders have accomplished. In fact, I have documented many of these accomplishments in Part I and II. I acknowledge our renovated theater will be a beautiful facility, and welcome the soft opening in April 2018 and the formal opening in September 2018. Attractive murals are starting to appear. However, I stand strong in my convictions that if we do not make significant strides to prepare the city, this commitment could face eminent economic failure and political failure for those who have so adamantly supported financing this $20 million-dollar project.
    Keeping my thoughts close to the forefront, “Come Shop with Me.” Imagine as a first-time visitor or a local resident, you want to do some shopping before going to the theater to listen to the “Chase Riley Band,” which just launched a nationwide tour. Midway down Main Street, you see one of these stores. At the end of the street the other store. As you drive around the block, you think….? Which one would you be inclined to enter?
    For the record, these are not from Clarksburg, but they easily could be.
    After the performance, you and your companion want to have a late bite and a beverage – it is 10:30 p.m. Walk around Clarksburg and see what is available.
    Actually, I would like to invite any of my readers to take a walk around town at 10:30 p.m. on a selected week night and especially on a Saturday alone, or with a companion. Remember to dress your theater-best. Park in Jackson Square. Walk down Pike and Main Streets, all the way from 3rd and 5th Street, cutting through Trader’s Avenue (Alley). Right now, this is what you will see. Now, how does it make you feel?


    (Main Street pano)
    (Main Street)
    (Main Street)
    (Main Street)
    (Pike Street)
    (Traders Avenue/Alley looking West)
    (Traders Avenue/Alley looking East)
    (4th Street)
    To gauge whether progress is being made, make the same ‘walk-about-town’ once a month. Choose a different week night, but make Saturday part of your regular tour. Do a little window shopping…as we called it many years ago. Report back as to what you see and how you feel.
    We only have a few months before opening night of The Robinson Grand Theater. However, will Clarksburg be ready for the much-anticipated crowds? We have the resources available to create a beautiful, safe, and navigable downtown. Suggestions have been made. Drawings submitted. There is the energy and willingness to help. The question stands, “Will some be willing to truly join forces, consider outside ideas and suggestions, and delegate to accomplish a common vision?”
    This goes way beyond simply city mandates and implementations. It must be collaborative effort among city officials, business leaders, and residents. Too much is at stake. For if this effort fails or does not reach expectations, not only will individual reputations be in jeopardy, but so will the reputation of an entire city.
    Sometimes, I feel I am the only one who sees the urgency. So much to do. So little time. Knowing, wishing, and acknowledging will not transform what ‘is’ into what ‘should be.’ Supposedly, progress on the theater is on schedule. But, what about the rest? I do not think it is too much to ask to hear specific plans for signage, additional beautification projects, plans to address downtown social issues, and what is being done to encourage dining and shopping diversity. If there are plans, what is the projected timeline? I would really like to say, “Come shop with me downtown,” and be excited about the possibility.
    I am willing to accept criticism by some for speaking up and often, even though many are being silent, if keeping these issues on the forefront means progress. And, I am sure there are some who look at downtown and say, “It’s OK. What’s the big deal? People only want to see and hear top quality entertainment.” I am not one of ‘those.’ Being silent and hoping…well it seldom works. I’ve never been very good at being silent. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Martin Luther King Jr.
    And, with that being said, I will just watch and listen. And hold those accountable…accountable.
    Come to think of it, time to wrap this up for another week. Almost time to attend our next City Council meeting. With much anticipation, I am anxious to hear about…
    And that’s the way I see it on this very unusual October day. Part IV,  the final part of my cycle is coming soon.
    Until next time, this is Michael saying, “All that matters is where you’re going.” – Bob Marley