Where the Lights are Much Brighter

City of SarasotaAs a child, I remember when it wasn’t safe to go downtown after 6 o’clock. Crime was at an all-time high. The stores closed at dusk. And everyone went home out of fear that something might happen.

My perspective changed about crime in the city when I graduated high school and went on to a university located in North Philadelphia. While I was there, Tom Brokaw declared on national television that North Philadelphia was the epicenter of crack cocaine in the United States. Suddenly, Sarasota seemed not such a bad place to be.
We all have our points of reference when we measure our experiences here in Sarasota. Each of us works hard to make this city our own. We strive to leave an indelible mark on this community with the intent on making it better than it was before.

I miss a lot of what was here when I was a child. But I love more of what Sarasota has become. We are a great place to be and everyone knows it. Yet, we didn’t become this wonderful place because we didn’t want to change. We became this place because we knew we had to change.

We have a bustling downtown that has a lot to offer where more and more people want to live. Is it safe to be downtown after 6pm now? Just look at how many sidewalk cafes keep people hanging out way after their bedtime. Look at the sidewalk art that exists without graffiti. And look how many storefronts exist without bars on the windows that send a clear message of no trespassing. Look around you and see all that we have accomplished. There is a lot to be proud of.

The question is now: “Can one person lead us into the future?” Not really. Not unless you are looking for Batman to save Gotham City. The only thing one person can do is to carve out what his or her special interests are and ask you to follow them.

Progress doesn’t happen because of one person. It also doesn’t happen because of an election. It happens because of the collective effort of all who live here. All of these great things have occurred because of the consensus building of the neighborhoods that pushed and pulled each other into the future. Did we get it all right? No. There are plenty of things I think we did wrong. But we learn from them because of people like me who have been here long enough to remind you of what we lost and what we gave up in order to make this a better place.

If we cannot build consensus, it is not because of a fault in our system, but a fault in our people. We must learn that a little “give and take” will move us closer to our goals and into a brighter future.
We are vocal and we are passionate. We own our city as a collective.
SRQ Daily Columnist Susan Nilon is the president of Florida Talk Radio and owner of WSRQ Radio. She hosts “The Nilon Report” on WSRQ Sarasota 1220AM/106.9FM weekdays 4pm-6pm SHARE: 

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