Happy New Year!
I hope everyone closed out 2016 on a high note and is ready to take on the new year.
In past years, I’ve used my first column of the year to either look back at what has happened during the past 12 months in Downtown West Palm Beach or look forward to what lies ahead for the next year.
This year, I want to flip the script and show some gratitude for what we have right now. I want to thank all the people, businesses and organizations who often go unthanked – even criticized – but who contribute to the vibrancy of our city in their own unique way.
I’m thankful for everyone who works for the City of West Palm Beach, from the mayor and city commission to those who clean our streets and pick up our garbage. We often look at city hall as a walled garden, but I’ve had the unique opportunity to get to know many of the people there and I am always impressed with their knowledge and desire to work with city residents on new and exciting projects.
I may not always agree with each decision, but I understand that working to keep an entire city running while keeping all the residents happy is not an easy task. So, “thank you” for taking it on.
I’m thankful for Palm Beach Atlantic, our local university, and the commitment it has made to our downtown. It’s a school with a great national reputation that brings in young people and inspires them to give back to the community.
It’s a school that planted the seed of community into thousands of ambitious young people like Sean Scott who, a decade after graduating, would come back to Clematis Street looking to invest his time and energy into our downtown. In the few short years after opening Subculture Coffee, Sean has built a community hub for both PBA students as well as locals. It supports local artists, entrepreneurs and is a great asset to Downtown West Palm Beach.
I’m thankful for our downtown business owners. Owning a business is never easy. Investing one’s time and money in a retail store when it seems like most people would prefer to shop online is a labor of love.
Pioneer Linens, Liberty Book Store, Run and Roll, Provident Jewelry and all the other small downtown businesses are a fantastic and often overlooked resource. They bring people downtown, build a community and offer their expertise.
By supporting them we are not just getting a superior product to what we’d get online, but we know that the money is going right back into our community.
I’m thankful for all the colorful characters on Clematis Street. Recently, while having a cup of coffee, I sat down and talked with an older gentleman named Charlie. Charlie was from Miami but was down on his luck and living on a park bench on the Waterfront. Even though life had taken a lot from him, he hadn’t lost his dignity and had a positive outlook on life that is rarely seen.
I’m thankful to live in a downtown that allowed Charlie’s path and mine to cross. I’m also thankful for the Homeless Coalition, Family Promise, Community Partners and the many other local non-profit organizations who have dedicated their time to reach their hand out to help others in their time of need.
I’m thankful for the many individuals and organizations who see the opportunity in the Dixie Highway/Broadway corridor and are developing Northwood Village into a community where the arts and small businesses can thrive, and are supporting Antique Row and developing that area into a vibrant dining scene.
I’m thankful to live in a town that attracts people from around the world and inspires them to invest their blood and treasure to build the city of the future, a city that will build the best buildings, attract the best businesses, build the best schools and attract the best art.
I’m thankful for our neighborhood organizations and activist groups who keep these wealthy and powerful development groups in check, reminding them that this city and our beautiful Waterfront and neighborhoods are for all the residents, and we need to help our city grow responsibly.
I’m thankful for all our city residents, those who are “born and raised” here as well as those of us who have moved here and have chosen to call West Palm Beach our home.
I’m thankful that we live in an urban city, a growing and changing place, with residents and visitors as colorful as the murals painted on our downtown walls.
I’m thankful that even though things are imperfect, we are a community with a city hall that is listening, and as we move into 2017 the future of this city is in our hands.