Part of the occupational hazards of being a touring musician is that it can be easy to not really “plug in” at home. For twenty years, I was traveling the world with my buddies making music. When I wasn’t traveling, it was time to focus on family. Consequently, I never really built a large network of “Roswellians” outside of those in my immediate circles of church, neighborhood, and sports. Even then, my circle was small. Somewhere along the way though, I feel in love with my hometown. When people would ask me if I liked living in Atlanta, I would reply, “Atlanta is okay, but Roswell is incredible. I live in a small town close to a big city.”
For me, I guess it was just that I always felt so relaxed in Roswell. Whether a family outing to the Mill or the Chattahoochee river park, watching my children practice football and cheerleading at Roswell Area Park, the conversations around a bus stop in the morning, or just the feeling of serenity I felt when I pulled into my neighborhood, I really fell in love with our little pocket of the world. I never felt like I was home just by landing at Hartsfield-Jackson airport. It was only when I turned off 7B, and crossed over Crabapple. That’s when I felt like I was home.
Now that I’m no longer a touring musician, I’ve found a new reason to love my hometown. It’s not our park system, even though I think it’s the crown jewel of our community. It isn’t our schools, even though I’d put them up against any in the world. It’s not our football team, even though I’m proud to be a part of Hornet Nation. It’s not the atmosphere on Canton Street, even though it rivals anywhere else in Georgia.
The people of Roswell are why I love Roswell.
You see, our parks are beautiful. But they stay beautiful because we have an amazing parks department that works tirelessly to keep them that way, as well as civic volunteers like those who serve on the board of the Friends of the Roswell Parks. Additionally, our youth sports programs are supported by great booster organizations and community sponsors.
Our schools are incredible, but it’s because we have amazing teachers who love our kids. Our schools have fearless leaders like Jerome Huff and Stacy Perlman that will fight for our children’s well being. Additionally, our schools have incredible volunteers who give countless hours to help support and subsidize our schools’ needs.
Our football team is amazing, but it’s amazing not just because of this year’s success. Rather, because of Coach John Ford’s leadership, and a legacy of loving this community established by Coach Ray Manus, Coach McFarland and Coach Poulos. I just witnessed a football banquet where seniors, who never even saw the field in a game, spoke about how proud they were to be on the team.
Canton street is happening, thriving and growing, but it’s not because it’s a great location. Rather, it’s because it’s full of brave entrepreneurs and small business owners who have poured their livelihoods into their businesses, and truly appreciate their customers.
I was blessed to get to travel the world, but now I’ve been given an even better gift. I’ve been given the opportunity to get to know more and more of the amazing people of Roswell. I love you guys. You’re my tribe. You’re happy people. You’re generous people. You’re courageous people. You’re intelligent people. You’re people who know that diversity is strength. You’re people who love their neighbors as themselves. You’re the salt of the earth.
Over the last few months, I’ve been exposed to a different side of Roswell. As I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of the business owners, civic leaders, and public servants that also call Roswell home, I’ve heard over and over again that a new cloud of negativity is starting to hang over our city. Many of the people that give the most to our community to make it great are growing dispirited. It’s not that they need a citizenry that are complicit to their agenda. Rather, it’s they need a comm(unity) that tells them what they would like to see, is understanding that there will be challenges to get there, but doesn’t turn to name calling, intimidation, or a general spirit of bitterness to achieve its aims. The snarky spirit of social media cynicism is trying to invade our town.
You see, there are some real challenges. Our city is a great place to live. Can it also be a great place to work? Will we protect the areas that make it a great place to play? How can we allow for progress that keeps our unique flavor intact? I want great neighborhoods, but also great businesses. I don’t want you to have to be rich to experience this great city. I want us to grow with racial and economic diversity. THAT IS OUR GREATEST STRENGTH. There are complicated issues of zoning, redistricting, budgeting and development. It’s time to get involved and forge a vision for what Roswell can be. If you don’t have an idea, at least be someone who doesn’t criticize the people that are trying to roll up their sleeves and make our city a better place.
I think it’s time that our voices were heard!
Some of my friends have just launched a new Facebook page called Keep Roswell Great. Go there, and leave a simple sentence or two about why you love Roswell. Like the page and share it with your friends.
Say something positive about Roswell on twitter or Instagram. Thank a teacher or a principal. Post a picture of your fun in the snow. Highlight when you support a local merchant. When you do, use the hashtag #WhenInRoswell . This will amplify your voice to a larger platform and will be seen by every member of your city council, and the rest of the world that’s watching.
Finally, if you’ll join me, attend the City Council meeting on Monday Night. You don’t have to say anything. Just come with a smile. Some of our leaders need to see some smiles. They work hard for us, and they need some encouragement. There’s a lot on the agenda. There’s a lawsuit to remove the mayor. There’s important commission heads being placed. There are motions that affect the DDA and the UDC. You don’t have to know what all that means to attend though. You don’t have to have my opinion, or a pre-determined opinion at all to attend. But, it’s time to come together as “One Roswell.” It’s time to show the world that we are truly a comm(unity).