MY (ADOPTED) HOMETOWN, LESSONS LEARNED FROM MISTAKES MADE, AND HOPES FOR A BRIGHT NEW FUTURE
Immediately after my return from the World Monuments Fund sponsored Route 66 symposium in Anaheim,California, I walked into a firestorm of controversy, largely the result of misunderstanding and rumor. In an effort to calm the storm and nurture the cooperative spirit of the conference, I began posting a summary of the information obtained there and examples of how communities were harnessing the resurgent interest in Route 66 as a catalyst for development.
Then, in providing assistance to the developers of the 2014 Route 66 International Festival I got caught up in the enthusiasm dampening apathy that ebbs and flows in my adopted hometown of Kingman. You may have noticed a sense of frustration in recent posts.
Well, this morning I would like to shake that dust from my shoes, focus on 2014, and continue with a series of posts about positive developments along the Route 66 corridor. The hope is that I will spark some enthusiasm as well as creative thinking.
First, however, I have a request. Would you take a moment to read this article in the Kingman Daily Miner, and then put in your two cents worth with a letter to the editor? I hope that shared notes about the transitional success of other communities, what visitors see in Kingman, and positive thoughts from people who live here might be a step toward breaking the cycle of apathy that hinders development.Now, lets look at a few creative grass roots endeavors. In Holbrook, David Heward kicked off a Route 66 Electric Car Club with a Facebook page. Even though the primary focus is on GEM cars, in its first weeks of activity it is generating interest and involvement in Winslow as well as Holbrook. We have even discussed participation of the GEM car owners from these communities taking part in the festivities at the Route 66 International Festival next August. In this fledgling endeavor we can see the laying of a foundation for cooperative efforts between the communities of Winslow and Holbrook. Now, imagine the possibilities as David is also actively working on developmental projects in the Holbrook historic district, and is sparking community interest by posting photos and information about the successful mural projects in Kingman and Winslow, and speculating on a Telsa charging station. All along the Route 66 corridor are countless examples of similar grass roots endeavors that became the catalyst for dramatic community transformation with international implications. How many people knew of Afton, Oklahoma before Laurel Kane and her husband established Afton Station, and Laurel began blogging about her adventures there?Now it is an international destination for thousands of travelers and Route 66 enthusiasts. The town itself still languishes but Laurel has served as an inspiration for countless others.Likewise with Angel Degadillo, Gary Turner, Bill Shea, Rich Henry Kevin and Nancy Mueller, Kumar Patel, “Croc” Lile, Connie Echols, and Richard Talley. Each of these people exemplify the fact that the power to transform a community, to make a town a destination, is in the hands of anyone with a thick skin, ambition, imagination, and perseverance.Galena, Kansas was a faded, fading mining town before Melba Riggs and Renee Charles partnered in the creation of Four Women on the Route. Even Route 66 enthusiasts were so distracted by the Big Texan and Cadillac Ranch that they missed the best Amarilo has to offer along the Sixth Avenue corridor (an early alignment of Route 66) until Bob Lile got involved. The biggest obstacle to seeing these efforts bear fruit is personal frustration that leads to thoughts of throwing in the towel. Fortunately a few folks are simply to stubborn, or to broke, to give up. Without them the world would be a much porter place. Now, if I can just take my own advice, look toward these folks for inspiration, and not allow my hunger for a community that exudes vitality and enthusiasm to inspire us to move rather than keep plodding on…