A Love Letter to the City of Augusta
I wrote this back in August 2015. Still feel the same way. I guess it’s time now for some South Augusta love.
“You ask me Why I Love Her? Well, give me time. I’ll explain.”
Those words from John Wayne’s “America, Why I Love Her” always resonate when I think of the city of Augusta.
Augusta is many things to many people… it’s the Garden City, golf central, the birthplace of soul, the silicon valley of The South. And unfortunately, for some, Augusta is a convenient whipping boy for those who harbor frustration or resentment toward their peers for unrealized potential — that of the collective community’s or their own.
For me, this is where I grew up, and where I choose to call home. Augusta is home to my family, and to an ever-expanding creative class and collaborative community. And downtown is the epicenter of it all.
Yes, downtown. The diamond in the rough. The place where some have said dreams go to die. But upon closer inspection, you notice a tightly knit collective of independent businesses, whose owners are heavily invested in the Central Business District. You’ll notice individuals from disparate industries coming together to address our community’s challenges.
City leaders, business professionals, and technical wizards are building stronger human and computer networks. Public school students connect with entrepreneurs and develop new disruptive technologies. Visual and performance artists are leveraging partnerships to bring beauty to unexpected spaces.
Augusta does indeed have its challenges — transportation, education, industry, etc. And every now and again, someone asks “why do you stay here? Why haven’t you moved away to make music in The Big City or on the road?”
I always welcome the question, because the answer is obvious.
Everything I need is right here in the Greater Augusta area, and most of it downtown. Music, cultural festivals, historical structures, and multiple opportunities to engage with the community. The Saturday Market, the Jessye Norman School, and Arts In The Heart Of Augusta, all provide opportunities for me to pursue my passion and interests while serving the public. Here, I get to combine my love for music with my love for the downtown community.
Over the past few years, I’ve sought in earnest to discover solutions to our community’s challenges and to understand why, for so many Augustans, the best answer is always “because we’ve always done it this way.” My husband has helped me to understand that you get out of life what you put into it… that what you see in others is simply a reflection of yourself.
The person in my mirror is convinced that there are always pathways to “yes”, that anything is possible once one decides that it shall be.
I see the tremendous resource that is our community. I see the gifts and talents on a daily basis, ready to be utilized for the common good. I see growth and opportunity, as our public education system receives a much-needed shot in the arm. I see the potential for innovation as more and more youth and millenials become increasingly engaged in social and political action. I see creatives forming strategic alliances and stamping out the notion of the starving artist.
All of these things create a kind of synergy unique to downtown Augusta. We are family, and we understand that we need one another to survive. The sum of what we can accomplish together greatly eclipses any milestone that we reach from our personal silos. In downtown Augusta, 2+2>4. Though the City has no formal initiative nor plan in place to support or promote small business ownership or to bring residents and visitors downtown, “townies” continue to work together to build a sense of place and to develop a viable collaborative economy.
It’s who we are. It’s what we do. We create. We innovate. We build. We respect. We live. And we love. We are Downtown Augusta.
A diamond in the rough is what I see when I look in the mirror, honestly. Karen needs polishing and refinement. Karen could use a good image consultant and publicist… a fresh coat of paint and a new wardrobe.
I am downtown. I am Augusta. I am the arts.
To reference Mr. Wayne,
You ask me Why I Love Her? I’ve got a million reasons why:
My Beautiful Augusta, beneath God’s wide, wide sky.