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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baby, I'm Amazed

Back in the late fall of 2007, when I began to scribble on these pages, the town of Sturbridge was in turmoil. Actually, turmoil is the more polite word to use. For a little over a year after that there was one negative incident after another. Name calling, innuendo, verbal attacks, written attacks and counter-attacks on, and by various residents of our town.

It was very hard to keep track of it all. It was exhausting keeping track of it all.

It was as if there were two young kids in town each representing a particular point of view, but were smitten with a touch of ADHD. One would accelerate, and the other would follow suit to counter the first.

Eventually, it got to the point that no matter what was being discussed, or acted on, it would launch a whirlwind of nonsensical debate, and a war of words. I half expected both parties to start speaking in tongues out of shear frustration with each other.

Then, something remarkable happened: there was a major shift in focus by one of the parties.

Imagine two armies marching towards one another, meeting, bumping heads, then retreating a few steps, and then repeating the entire exercise over, and over again, when suddenly, one of the armies decides that instead of bumping heads next time, it was going to sidestep, and avoid the anticipated confrontation.

Rather unique strategy, but it worked. It threw everyone off kilter. The long time head butting had instilled a particular behavioral response that could not be broken until one party or the other made a change, and when that happened, everyone was left on the field of battle looking lost as the side stepper concentrated on something they found much more important.

That act, that side stepping act, was first looked on with suspicion, sort of a "what the hell are they up to now?" kind of look, but the side stepper re-focused their energy. That was the key, a refocusing of a lot of pent up energy with no real place to go except to Negative Land.

What caused this epiphany?

I dunno.

Maybe it was seeing that all that spent energy was not producing anything close to the results that they wanted to see. It's like banging ones head against the wall over and over again and expecting a different result other than pain. It ain't gonna happen. One either has to move to a softer wall, or just stop banging ones head.

The head banging stopped with whatever that epiphany was.

So, where did all that pent up energy go to? Well, it was re channeled to political campaign, and the winning of a seat in our Town government. Somehow, all the ideas, and energy actually found a home. A venue for eliciting change. Yes, there were a lot of obstacles to overcome. for one, there was the history of all those head bumping battles, but one can't just tell others to forget about that, and "look at me now". One has to act.

And, they have.

During the past many months a new organization has been formed in town, The Merchants of Sturbridge, headed by that side stepper. This one organization has taken a fractured business community, united it, and directed it towards very positive changes that are having a wonderful affect on the businesses and residents alike. From offering the ambassador program to meet large groups coming to town, and promoting Sturbridge in a a great way, to a common web site, placing flags up around town, encouraging the beautification of our town, and actually doing it, decorating bicycles and placing them outside of local businesses to recognize the Pan Mass Challenge riders, to the big "Feast and Fire" event coming on October 10th at Turners Field in Fiskdale with music, crafts, vendors, food, and a bonfire. More positive acts have been done in town since the winter than have been done in years.

This is just one of the avenues that energy has been re channeled to.

Now, I am not one of those people that are going to say, "I knew that if things were channeled in a more positive direction, it would be a wonderful thing". That's the way it is supposed to work, and I tried to encourage it with my writings here, but I seriously had my doubts that that would ever happen.

There has been more positive change, and innovation in the last 8-9 months than I have seen in years here in town. Of course, it is not because of just one person, there are many, many people that have contributed to this wonderful change here in town, but I really believe that it could not have been done unless the "troll under the bridge" became a vegetarian first. Otherwise, it wouldn't have mattered how many goats wanted to cross that bridge for a better town, they were going to get eaten no matter what.

Change of strategy. Re-focusing ones energy. Doing something completely unexpected. All of these tactics can result in the positive outcome one wants to see.

And, I for one, and glad to watch it all unfold. Nice change.

To further illustrate my point, check out this video. It is all about doing something unexpected, instead of the same 'ol, same 'ol to get the results one wants.



  1. The “sidestepper” did not have an epiphany. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. All these new associations you give him credit for are his way of gaining a base for his real agenda. Attack and destroy any one who he disagrees with. He is very skilled at it. Just look at his latest victim.

  2. The "sidestepper" is on the BOS and why would he bad mouth the BOS when he is a part of it. Watch out for those who cross him. He already has pounced on someone and no doubt he will continue. Sturbridge will be the victim and he already is trying to take over. Watch and see. He is not the voice of Sturbridge!!! We love this quiet, small town and hope that he does not ruin it. Speak out, when he speaks up!!!


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