Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?
These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.
Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...
...seems to be working so far
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
It Can Happen Here
Then something amazing happened. People began to work together.
It started with a bit of whimsy, a pig parade. Three foot tall fiberglass pigs were made and individuals worked on artistically painting them in all sorts of ways, and then they were pulled down Main Street in a large parade. This bit of whimsy has become an annual event, and this year the pigs have been replaced by dogs and cats. The event spurred a lot of brainstorming, and even better, action. A local architectural designer lent her skills to help redesign store fronts and areas the Main Street including a small park with stone walls, brick walkways and a wonderful gazebo. One of the towns eminent residents, Warren Kimble, opened a gallery downtown, and soon other artists followed. Walking tours of the town that was first settled in the 1660's began, and the over 260 houses on the National Register of Historic Places became a magnet for tourists.
Everyone was involved. From the town officials, the Chamber of Commerce, local businesses, small clubs, to individuals, everyone was set on achieving one goal: to make Brandon better, and to bring it back to life.
They have attracted artists from all over. The former executive chef of the Four Seasons in Boston packed up and moved to Brandon to open a new restaurant. Each new addition attracted more attention, and more business.
This past year, during a period of brainstorming, they thought of a very unique way to embed themselves even further on the map. They gave away a wedding. Local businesses, caterers, florists, wedding dress shops, photographers, musicians, engravers all gave away a bit of themselves in order for Brandon to give away a free wedding to some deserving couple. An essay was required to enter, and the best one was chosen by the committee. The winners were awarded a grand wedding worth $40,000.00.
What this event did for local business is amazing. What is even more incredible is that the town decided something had to be done, and they threw their ideas onto the table, and acted. They didn't just sit around and debate, or write about the changes that needed to occur, they went to work. The result is a town that is far different than it was a few years ago, and all because some folks up north saw a need, and took it upon themselves to make the changes happen.
It can happen here.