Coming together for a better North Adams
To the editor:
Washington DC might be where I work and board. But North Adams is home. Some of the most painful observations that I make every day in Washington include the dysfunction that comes with keeping old wounds open and our inability to understand that there is far more that unites us than divides us. Our inability to come together at the national level has real consequences — the inability to get things done hurts real people in real ways. We cannot allow the same thing to happen in the home of the Western Gateway.
From August to November, endless battles ensued on social media between the supporters of Mayor Alcombright and former Mayor Barrett. But here's what else I saw on those same sites on the same days.
Invitations to attend spaghetti suppers to support families who lost their homes in a Furnace Street fire. A community-inspired and driven effort to revitalize the beautiful Hoosic River. A community-led effort to revitalize Hillside Cemetery. A grassroots-led fitness initiative. A resident taking his spare time to mentor youth as part of a teen writing workshop. Local police officers taking funds from their own pockets to share Halloween candy with neighborhood children. A former basketball coach making time to walk down the street to coach a foreign exchange student the best techniques of that very American sport.
McCann students donating their spare time to perform repairs on the Louison House. The spectacular artwork of talented Drury students providing a warm welcome downtown. People who were once just visitors to the Western Gateway making real investments of time, talent, and treasure in North Adams and calling it their new place of business or even their new home.
I saw that there is such a large amount of good in that smallest of cities. That character and generosity are found in people who strongly supported Mr. Alcombright and in people who strongly supported Mr. Barrett.
We can, and should, disagree passionately. But we must not make the same mistake that's made in Washington every day. We must not let the battles of the past stand in the way of solutions for the future.
In 1993, President Clinton said, "there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America." Today, wounds remain. But tomorrow, let's remember that there is nothing wrong with North Adams that cannot, and will not, be cured by what is right about North Adams. Let's remember that we're neighbors first. Let's come together. And let's watch the boundless potential we'll have once we do.