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 21, 2009

A Common Cord

I think we are finding our place.

It seems that Sturbridge was a place without much going for it in many ways other than Old Sturbridge Village, the Publick House, and the conventions over at the Host Hotel. Yes, we have a history, and fantastic outdoor venues in town, but something was missing. Everything seemed discombobulated, and willy nilly.

Discombobulated, and willy nilly. Actually, those same words have been used to describe me, so I can testify to their good use here.

We were missing a common link, a string that would connect all of our attractions, history, venues, and businesses. Before that connection could be made we needed to decide just who we were. Were we just an old central Massachusetts town with some history, and a great location? Were we Old Sturbridge Village? Were we a great place for outdoor activities, or a swell place for antiquing?

Well, we are all of those things, and more, but what we needed was a common thread, something to weave all of our parts together, and the sooner we found it, the sooner we could grow more.

I think we've found that thread: Old Sturbridge Village, and history.

The recent start of our Ambassador program where 19th century costumed greeters meet visitors to our town at the Host Hotel, and the outreach of OSV to the Information Center on Route 20 has begun to weave that common cord. Sturbridge is a great history destination in New England. Just as Plimouth Plantation has woven itself into the fabric of life in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the essence of what OSV is has begun to be shared outside their borders.

When one mentions Sturbridge to an outsider they will most always immediately respond, "Old Sturbridge Village", or something about history. Although many of us knew just what foundation was the best to grow our town on, it took a long time for it to be seen by others here in town. That foundation is history.

Now, they are beginning to see things clearer, and to look for more ways to tie it all together.

I can see, in the not too distant future, other connections being made in the same vein, with and without OSV. Militia drills on the Town Common every weekend during the summer, costumed greeters on the Common teaching visitors our history, carriage rides along our trails like they do along the trails in Acadia National Park in Maine, live music played at different venues around town, and much more.

A live 19th century band playing at the little park next to the Marketplace at the Falls would not only attract people, but those folks would visit the shops at that end of town.

A common theme shared by all, and designed in such a way as to tie everything together. That's what capitalizing on our history can do, and with our starting to head in that direction we can only imagine how the past can change our future.

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