This is how my town works. A couple issues back, in this very newsletter, I said the following:
My husband complained about a pothole the other day and I thought,
“We really need this app.”
And within, like, 5 minutes of pressing send on that puppy, Blacksburg’s community relations manager, Heather Browning, emails me. “Hey Melody, we have just what you need. It’s called At Your Request.”
Whoa. Mic drop.
Right away I filled out the online form to describe where the pothole was. I included my husband’s email address (it was his complaint, after all). AND THE POTHOLE GOT FILLED, PEOPLE. Plus every other pothole on our street.
Now, before you say, “Oh, of course they filled her pothole, she’s the writer who’s complaining about potholes in a newsletter,” I don’t think it was that. Or at least not just that. I think I just happen to live in a town that wants its residents to feel like they have a voice. Like their problems can get solved. I already knew from Citizens Institute that I loved our town government, but this experience taught me that
1. it doesn’t take a lot to feel good about where you live, because seeing those filled potholes gave me as profound a sense of accomplishment as if I’d taken a shovel out there myself, and
2. your town probably has undiscovered good stuff too.
One of my pieces of advice in This Is Where You Belong is to write a thank you note to your city for the stuff they’re doing right. Confession: I’ve never done it. Every time I see the median planters bursting with flowers, I mean to. I compose the letter in my head. “Thank you for making our town so beautiful!” I say. And then I don’t actually write it and send it.
Can we consider this my official thank you to Blacksburg (and to Heather Browning)? Thanks for everything. You’re awesome.
Shameless self-promotion portion of the newsletter: I did my first Facebook Live interview this week with a group of expats called I Am a Triangle, and I learned that I basically always tilt my head to one side when I’m listening. If you’d like to see the head-tilting up close, I’d be happy to Facebook or Skype your group/book club! Email me at email@example.com to schedule it.
7 items of interest
1. We’re just about to hit prime moving season. Are you in that boat? If so, these tips for moving without wanting to kill someone are gold, especially the comments.
2. A TED talk about the beauty of talking to strangers.
3. I’m not going to lie: I still struggle with Amazon addiction. This article made me rethink. “If we want our communities to be strong, we have to think very carefully about the unseen structures upon which we rely, and what we’d do if they failed.”
4. How retirees really decide where to live.
5. Literally streets paved with gold.
6. “Perhaps the future has us living back in the city, or in a hip artsy area where our creativity can really grow. But for now I am back to loving the town that I am living in.” On learning to be grateful for your town.
7. I love this kooky map of what every nation does best. Belarus is #1 in alcohol drinkers! () Greece is #1 in cheese eaters! America is #1 in spam email!
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