Building community spirit is something I've been exploring for sometime with an attitude of restless discontent. It seemed to me it was a missing element in growth for our town. According to Wikipedia, community spirit is a phrase used to describe local people working together for a mutually positive and sometimes pleasurable result. Community spirit is associated with voluntary work, favours and gestures of good will by residents and local businesses.
I perceived our community somewhat lacking this spirit of working together that concerned me. Recently, I began to pay more attention to where I could spot it. Then I heard at our community picnic, Marian Ellinwood talk about the kind, supportive neighbors in our town who have done everything from mowing grass, plowing snow, and to making meals as months of hospitalization for her son, Ricky has now turned into years. In this small neighborhood of Willow Grove outside of the village, one of our town board members, Tom Fitzsimmons, took on a project to create a walking track. Now folks are enjoying a safe, enjoyable place close by to walk off the road. Then there is Barry LaVoy, founder of the ATV club, who for years has encouraged ATV'ers to respect our historic resources.
|Mural in Lyons, NY at the G. Dobbins Memorial Park |
So, I began to see community spirit wasn't really missing. It was my field of vision that needed to be broadened. It's like when you get a red car, you start seeing red cars everywhere. When I looked to see a bit farther to our neighbors west of here in the town of Lyons, I found a great example of how community spirit is being built. Mural Mania began several years ago in Lyons as a result of cleaning up an area along the canal and trolley abutment. As a result of this, an idea to create a historic mural grew out of their community spirit that has spread across the Erie Canal region from Macedon to Syracuse. Dawn Jordan, a local muralist, refers to this as a "new Renaissance of art" in the region by using the history of the Erie Canal to create a visual history book.
Now, Mark DeCracker, with Trail Works Inc. who volunteers to work with communities to organize community mural projects, has started another innovative idea to build community spirit. It's called, "Forever Wild For Everyone." With the intent of "opening the doors of nature to everyone," it promotes development and/or designates nature trails without barriers for everyone to enjoy.
Our park design committee has been discussing and making plans to incorporate both of these kinds of projects into the Montezuma Heritage Park. Mark DeCracker recently met with the HPDC (Heritage Park Design Committee) to show how Lyons is building a new "Forever Wild For Everyone" trail and encouraging community spirit by working together to accomplish this goal. The news is full of negative events that can pull us down and create a sense of insecurity. When a community's spirit is alive, it makes you feel like people care, and creates more of a sense of hope for our future.