Great Cities: Why its all about the attitude and the people make the difference.

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”~ Walt Disney

Every city has a uniqueness about it that’s often hard to quantify. From their architectural features creating a sense of place to their arts and cultural offerings contributing to their overall quality of life, there’s something special about each of the places we live. Yet ultimately its not the buildings, the roads or the physical layout that makes cities truly great, its the citizens who have chosen to call them home and the spirt and attitude which they imbue within them.

During my time in office there was not a week that went by that I was not truly inspired by the actions of the citizens I served. As I began to realize how fortunate I was to serve such an amazing citizenry I began to write weekly highlights in order to shine a light on how individuals, families and organizations were making a difference in our community on a weekly basis.

One of the special people I highlighted was Mrs. Ruth Crawford, a longtime teacher who started the Shiloh Community Center after her retirement when she was in her seventies. As Mrs. Ruth’s 100th birthday party will be held next Saturday, I recalled attending her birthday party in 2009 which she held in conjunction with her two surviving sisters with all three being in their nineties. As I reflected back on this truly heartwarming event I came across the weekly highlight I wrote that weekend that I thought might be worth sharing as it underscores for me that every great city truly is defined by the great people who live there.


Over the past week, I’ve been blessed to have had numerous experiences that have been nothing short of inspiring. Last week, I had the chance to speak to the Young Professionals of Augusta, a diverse and progressive minded group whose membership continues to grow. Their enthusiasm for our city, and for wanting to be proactive in helping to move our city forward, gives me great hope for our future.

Over the weekend, I spent a good deal of time at Arts in the Heart and was moved by this celebration of our city’s cultural diversity. The crowds were amazing and the energy of the event was palpable. I also had the opportunity to attend a birthday celebration for Ruth Crawford and her two sisters who are all three over the age of ninety. Ms. Crawford, who started the Shiloh Community Center, has long been one of my heroes and her wonderful family, who came from as far away as Boston, is a testament to the lives these three amazing women have lived.

When I got home Saturday night after helping to judge a singer songwriter competition, I was hit by the thought that I always tell people I wish they could see what I see on a daily basis. With this in mind, and with a tremendous amount of inspiration from my recent experiences, I sat down and put pen to paper on the piece attached. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it helps give a bit of perspective as to just how amazing our city really is.




The river winds its calming way,

Through the place that we call home.

Some scattered on occasion,

We’ve chosen no longer to roam.

A city whose creative roots,

Break through the senseless strife.

Dark clouds shall never hold us back,

Fertile ground now blooms with life.

The future calls us onward,

While white light ignites the way.

Where once was only midnight,

Now comes the bright new day.

Despite the past we cannot change,

While we strive on to tomorrow,

We’re bound all one to another,

For we share in both blessing and sorrow.

There will never be the moment,

Where a city feels no hurt or no pain,

But steadfast in love for our neighbors,

Augusta’s strength will always remain.

The Garden City grows anew,

Seeds planted in each generation,

Many flowers creating a rainbow view,

A sight worthy of wondrous elation.

And so now let us remember,

For our city to rise above,

Our focus must be a united front,

Eternal hope born of brotherly love.

Deke Copenhaver

Augusta Mayor



Principal, Copenhaver Consulting LLC, bestselling author, former mayor of Augusta, host of The Changemaker Podcast, executive coach, keynote speaker.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Deke Copenhaver

Principal, Copenhaver Consulting LLC, bestselling author, former mayor of Augusta, host of The Changemaker Podcast, executive coach, keynote speaker.