Autumn in the North Cemetery.

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, July 14, 2009

And, Along Came Jim...

The more I see, the more I envision a tall man astride a palomino. He'd look down at those around him, touch the brim of his hat, and say,"Just trying to help.", and then ride off till needed again.

Jim Donahue, the CEO at Old Sturbridge Village, is that man. When he arrived at the financially shaken OSV just two years ago, he began to lead the organization out of decades of accumulative poor choices, and a poorly run administration. Within a short time, the attendance at OSV jumped remarkably. He brought back the costumed interpreters that wander the Village, and put less emphasis on the high tech video, and photographic interpretations within the village. Visitors want to interact with people. It takes people to make a village work.

Since he arrived in July of 2007 donations to the Village have doubled. No small feat.

As time went on, he reopened the Oliver Wight Tavern, began to take care of the neglected maintenance of the buildings within the village, and introduced what is becoming annual traditions, "The Village by Candlelight" around the Christmas Holiday, and the Fourth of July Celebration with magnificent fireworks.

Jim Donahue has taken an old treasure , and revitalized it, and even in this economy, he has made it work.

Recently, the Chamber of Commerce that runs the information center at the jug handle on Route 20 across from OSV, fell onto hard times financially. The Info Center was going to shut down.

Then along came Jim...

Donahue's idea was to pay the current employees at the Info Center with OSV money, and set up a small cafe for travelers inside the building. This plan was two fold: to help out the Chamber during tough times, and to keep the info center open, and to extend the hand of OSV outside the village, with the intention of steering more numbers across the street.

Takes vision, and imagination to come up with these ideas, and the brass to go for it.

So far, he has it all.

Lead by example. Our parents taught us this, our teachers stressed it, and our bosses have insisted on it. It works.

Let's watch and see how his example spreads through our community. What he has accomplished in such a short period of time at Old Sturbridge Village is amazing. His vision, and the vision and dedication of those around him have set the bar fairly high. Would be nice if some of that fell onto Sturbridge itself.

After all, it may just take a village.

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