In internet shorthand, tl;dr stands for too long; didn’t read. It’s often posted in the comments section of blog posts that impatient readers skipped.
This week’s story on the downtown will likely be tl;dr for quite a few readers. At 3,800 words, it’s three times longer than most stories I write.
But I wrote it anyway, because I have worked in the downtown for nearly a decade and watching the efforts to resuscitate it come and go has made me sad.
Quite frequently, when the topic comes up, people get frustrated and try to figure out whose fault it is that the downtown can’t seem to get on its feet.
People blame the city a lot. Sometimes they blame Walmart or policies they dislike, such as parking limits.
The fact is, though, the city can only do specific things. Other things fall to other groups, and there are a fair number of groups that, if fully functional, could truly bring the downtown to its full potential.
So I set out to identify all the players and their roles, as well as the obstacles each faces.
As I wrote the story, what emerged was that Monroe might finally be in a place to fix the historic business district. There are new people involved, and people who have been active in the past stand ready to step back up if encouraged.
There is money available from several sources that could turn some visions from pipe dreams to realistic goals.
And Monroe has some assets other towns don’t. It’s got an expensive and sophisticated study sitting on a shelf, chock-full of microscopic detail on how people around here spend their money. Monroe is one of only 26 towns in Washington to have advanced to the second tier of the Main Street Approach, a downtown revitalization process that has transformed towns like Port Townsend and Walla Walla.
And Monroe’s got a downtown sub-area plan in place that cost a pretty penny and that could help guide a thoughtful redevelopment years into the future.
So the story this week is a survey of the human assets that the city has, as well as an assessment of the problems that remain to be solved, and I hope those who are interested find it useful.
Also, this week, I found myself quite moved by the plight of senior citizens who get food assistance from Meals on Wheels.
I have an enormous amount of gratitude and respect for women of my grandmother’s generation who took on jobs previously only given to men.
So when I met Nora Snyder, who was a Boeing mechanic from the 1950s all through the ’60s and ’70s, I felt the way some people feel in the presence of military veterans. It’s women like her who won me the freedom I cherish today, the freedom to do work I love.
That she, who spent nearly 30 years at Boeing and who owns her own home, should have to struggle horrifies me. If ever a woman was entitled to her dignity, she is (and in fact, all seniors are); yet for all her sharp mind and resilient attitude, she must turn to assistance from the county for such a basic thing as meals, and it hurts her pride, as it does that of many seniors faced with that choice.
What’s worse is that if $1.2 trillion in budget cuts at the federal level go into effect as a result of a failed deficit reduction effort a couple of years ago, the program that provides that food could be cut 10 percent.
My God, we have to be able to better than this. What is America, if it can’t provide seniors like Nora with food upon which she depends? How can we call ourselves the greatest nation on earth if we can’t even gin up the pittance it takes to provide a lifeline for the people who made and protected the country in which we live?
We glorify the sacrifices we ask of our soldiers, up to and including their lives, thanking them for helping us keep our country great. How ironic that many of us are reluctant to sacrifice the price of a daily coffee to keep this country from becoming a place where the Great Generation goes hungry.
Tax me more, if that’s what it takes. But give the Noras of our country the sustenance they need.