Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about my own personal fears regarding Naperville’s future and whether or not our uniqueness and charm can be maintained. Given our recent “best place” ranking for 2008 dropping in the near vicinity of a weeklong vacation to Cape Cod, MA, I’ve had allot to think about.
Our journey took us up into the tip of Cape Cod into North Truro, just minutes outside of Provincetown. Aside from being a wonderfully colorful place, Provincetown is best know historically for being the first landing point for the Pilgrims dating back into the 1600s. They remained in the area for five weeks prior to moving further inland in search of a more suitable terrain in which to settle.
Today, Provincetown is a creative and open-minded mecca for artists, accepting of all people and a carefully preserved historic landmark watched over by the highly visible Pilgrim Monument (pictured above). Aside from a strong art vibe and plenty of interesting people, the biggest aspect I appreciated about Provincetown was the absolute lack of any form of commercialized business or national chains. Commercial and Bradford Streets, the epicenter of activity, is lined with endless art galleries, local theaters, music venues, bars, independent restaurants, candy shops, indulgent ice cream shops, unique one-of-a-kind shops and more which can all be accessed by foot. Given the combination of “high brow” and “low brow” experiences, any air of pretension was lost in the coastal night air.
Given all the discussion and debate I’ve heard about Naperville’s own future, including concerns from others ranging from local business leaders to residents, our greatest fear is the loss of our own uniqueness to the almighty dollar.
We must expand our creative and innovative investment in our community and protect our downtown and other areas from becoming overly commercialized.
We must foster a strong arts collaboration, not competition, through public and private support remembering that any art event promotes the arts community as a whole.
We must expand public-private partnerships to foster entrepreneurship and originality, not to clear the way for national chain stores and restaurants to saturate the our downtown.
We must create a multitude of activities downtown to create more options after dark to merge with the current nightlife.
We must avoid the exploitation of greedy self-interest and keep the skyrocketing prices of housing and commercial space downtown to make room for all who dream of living or building new business concepts in downtown.
We must continue to preserve and enhance our green space which has made one of the biggest differences in our community.
We must value the richness of culture which resides in our community and continue cultivating a more metropolitian attitude driven by appreciation, understanding and acceptance for each other.
We must also continue to give back to our world which has given us all so much in life.
Finally, we must never forget that “community” should not be the control of the few but rather the resolve and cooperation of the many. Let’s work together Naperville to build an even stronger future! SM