Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to see our beloved community once again receive special honors from CNN/Money Magazine as being a best place to live in America, this time in the #3 slot. However, given my unique vantage point as publisher of the World of Naperville and the official Naperville Examiner for the millions who visit www.examiner.com monthly, I hear as much from the detractors as the promoters regarding perceptions of our community.
As one might suggest, our latest accolade has already incited a mixed response from around the Chicagoland area, which shaped my Naperville Examiner posting entitled CNN/Money Magazine names Naperville 3rd best place to live in America for 2008. My point really was that being named a “best place” to live does not mean your community is a “perfect place”. We know Naperville is far from perfect and has an assortment of shortcomings, yet it is still a badge of honor to those of us who take great pride in our community and want the rest of the world to give us a chance in having the same experience.
It’s natural to hear the stereotypical bashing we get from proud urban-dwellers in not only being a suburb but also being “Naperville”. However, I was a bit taken by some of the extremely nasty opinions registered online by those who claim to live in Naperville. Though it’s never fun to hear criticisms, I believe it is important that we listen closely and count are blessings that our fellow residents care enough to complain. Most of the complaints center not around what Naperville “is” but rather what residents are afraid Naperville is becoming… an exclusive overly commercialized oasis reserved for the priviledged and wealthy elite.
Yesterday, I walked through the downstairs exhibit at the Naper Settlement with my seven year-old and as I again reflected upon our community’s history, I couldn’t help but think of the pioneering entrpreneurial spirit of Joseph Naper and the other families who built Naperville. It made me envision the ideal future for Naperville, and instead of over-indulged excess I see the same pioneering entrepreneurial spirit carrying us forward and preserving all that has made Naperville a best place to live.
Stand proud Naperville and let’s answer the call to keep our community unique in the face of the growing pains which will challenge us in the coming years. Let’s open up the next chapter in Naperville’s history through reinforcing our commitment to education, our economy, the arts, creativity, entrepreneurial energy, our greenspace, fighting to preserve the uniqueness of downtown and the way in which we treat each other and those who visit our community. SM