“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” -Gloria Steinem
I think I’m attracted to this quote because I’m generally a pretty positive person. Negative people who tell me there isn’t anything in Downtown Marion (there are nearly 50 retail venues) or that there isn’t anything to do in Marion (there’s a multitude of things every week) make me shudder.
We often limit ourselves with narrow or negative thoughts and beliefs, unable to look beyond our own preconceived notions. Take, for example, the story of two young frogs born at the bottom of a country well. Both were essentially happy playing and frolicking in their own pool of water. One day, however, one of them noticed the bright light at the overhead and, curious, wondered what it meant. He carefully climbed the side of the well and cautiously peaked over the edge where he saw a pond with a small stream that he soon discovered ran into an even larger lake. As he hopped about, he realized that a glorious new world had opened up to him because he had dared to open his mind to consider the possibilities. The other frog, certain that there couldn’t be anything better, stayed behind never going beyond the limitations of that well.
How does all of this pertain to Downtown Marion? Well, like the frog at the bottom of the well, we have a lot of great things in Downtown Marion … but let’s take a moment to ponder the possibilities.
Think about Founder’s Park on the corner of Main and Church Streets. Now visualize a beautiful fountain with the sun sparkling through the intricate sprays of water. Glorious flowers surround the area echoing the riot of colorful plantings throughout the Downtown.
Imagine its Friday and a balmy summer evening in Downtown Marion. South Main Street is closed with hundreds of people are enjoying a classic rock band playing a cover of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock n Roll”. Meanwhile, the sidewalks of Center Street – from the Court House to the Harding Hotel – are lined with a multitude of tents from vendors selling fruits, vegetables, pies, cakes, paintings, stained glass, flowers, personalized and hand-painted shirts or canvas tennis shoes. There’s goat milk soap, bird baths, purses made from old records, wind chimes, and more. In the parking lot across from Charleston Place another band – country or maybe gospel – is singing a song that resonates deep in your soul. Downtown Marion’s multitude of restaurants are serving in a sidewalk setting; and all of the stores are open until at least 7 p.m. … including the new wine and cheese store and the Marion Innovation Centre which houses 12 small businesses.
Now picture an evening in December. You know Downtown Marion is the best place to come for unique, holiday gifts at affordable prices so you come downtown for the shopping and the atmosphere. The Christmas lights are festive and storefronts are glittering. The fountain in Founder’s Park has now become a fanciful Christmas tree and kids come from everywhere to see Santa’s reindeer. A more traditional tree graces the Court House, and the lights in the trees of Busby Park are reflected in the ice sculptures being carved into intricate forms. A multitude of carolers roam the streets and shoppers are greeted in every store with candy canes, hot chocolate and cookies. A chili cook-off is raising money for a local charity and Santa is once again listening to the wants and needs of Marion’s children.
Envision it’s a warm spring afternoon and the trees lining the Downtown streets are in full bloom, along with the daffodils and tulips. As you sit on one of the many benches, you reflect on the interesting mix of people enjoying the day. Students from OSUM and Marion Tech have left their Downtown housing to soak up the atmosphere of the internet café. Men and women in business attire slow their normal brisk pace from their office to the court house or bank breathing in the first great spring day. Seniors take the opportunity to come out and enjoy lunch out after a long, cold winter. High school students arrive for art lessons and plan the next phase of various mural projects throughout the Downtown.
What I’ve described above is infinitely attainable and, although it may take several years, I truly believe will come to fruition. The steps to get there are pretty basic. First, you must create a dream that is so big that it will keep you – and others – excited. Second, define the dream in detail, outlining the steps needed to get there. Third, live and share the dream so that it becomes real not only to you, but to others who can share the vision. And last, hold on to it so that no matter how many people tell you it’s impossible, the naysayers can’t break that hold.
Downtown Marion is always looking for people who can not only see what the Downtown has to offer now, but can visualize what it will become. If you are interested in investing your time, energy or dollars toward the effort to achieve these goals, please give me a call.