For those familiar with my aversion to towns that have more
than three stoplights it may come as a surprise to learn that I really enjoy the Los Angeles metropolitan area with its diverse and fascinating museums, architecture, neighborhoods, restaurants, and culture. What I don’t enjoy is spending a week in Los Angeles traffic during a two day visit.
While exploring historic Route 66 corridor in Pasadena at sunset, a thought came to mind. I wonder how many visitors or new residents have similar feelings about Kingman, Arizona, my adopted hometown. How many people enjoy the diverse landscapes, the stunning scenery, the climate, the eclectic shops, the vibrancy of the historic business district being swept by renaissance, the people, and the history but lament the lost opportunities, what seems to be a lack of vision, the apathy, and the factions that would prefer the ship run aground than change course if they can’t be at the helm?
When thoughts turn toward Kingman, more often than not I find myself deeply saddened. Such potential, such opportunity, so many wonderful and passionate people, and yet we seem content in our quest to set a record for finding new ways to avoid success. We commission studies, and shelve them. Then, we commission new studies that mimic the first studies, and shelve them. We catalog a lengthy list of assets but year after year, rather than develop them, we fund programs to catalog assets. From throughout the world we receive offers of assistance to market the city and develop attractions, but choose to reject or ignore them. The talents of leaders with vision, with knowledge, and with experience are squandered until these people tire, and with bitterness, relocate to a progressive community where the windshield and not the rear view mirror is used to chart a course toward the future. Grassroots initiatives fueled by passionate people who love the town wither after years of fighting the currents and rapids on their up stream swim.
Solace only comes from a comparative study. In five short years the owners of Black Bridge Brewery, Floyd & Company, Diana’s Cellar Door, House of Hops, Southwest Trading Company, Kingman Center for the Arts, Rickety Cricket’s, Grand Event Center, Beale Celebrations, and Gracie’s Vintage and other business have transformed the historic business district. The Route 66 Association of Kingman, and initiatives such as Promote Kingman and the Kingman Progressive Alliance For Positive Change are forging partnerships within the community that stand in glaring contrast to organizations that squandered years by providing an illusion of leadership while fostering division and obstruction behind the scenes. Leaders are questioning the status quo, and passionately point toward a future full of promise.
Kingman has such promise, such potential, but for at least one hundred years it has deftly avoided fully capitalizing on its assets or even striving to reach its potential. There is a sense, however, that this time things are different. Time will tell. Still, meanwhile, I like to dream of a Kingman that mimics the best of historic Burbank but without the traffic, the best of Pontiac but with a twelve month tourism season, the community spirit of Cuba, and the vibrant diversity of Los Angeles.