Friday, January 09, 2009

Let's Get Real About Downtown's Bright Future

I am an optimist.

My glass is half full. Clouds have silver linings. Tomorrow is a new day. Recessions lead to recoveries. Even hideous haircuts will grow out eventually.

That’s my outlook on life.

I started writing this column about a year ago to talk about the positive things happening in downtown Elgin to combat the negative perceptions that are holding us back.

Think of Downtown’s image as a cloudy day. I write about the silver linings. Or think about a really bad haircut (come on, we’ve all had one). I write about how it looks six weeks later.

Over the past year, my “Go Team!” attitude about downtown revitalization hasn’t always been readily embraced. For every optimist out there who writes a positive article there is a pessimist who posts a negative comment about it. Anonymously, of course.

I see this as a positive thing. I once heard that it’s when people stop talking you better start worrying.

So if my optimism has people talking about downtown, I’m doing my job.

But here’s the other thing about me.

I am also a realist.

Thinking happy thoughts about downtown revitalization is not enough. It takes a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of money. And it takes a lot of time and patience.

In 2009, I challenge you to see Downtown Elgin as a glass that is half full. Whether it’s half full of an Al’s malt, a Prairie Rock beer or a Ravenheart coffee doesn’t matter.

The point is there is a lot to appreciate about Downtown Elgin. Does our cup runneth over? Not yet, but with your help, it will.

I invite you to join the DNA in our 2009 campaign to “Rediscover Downtown Elgin.”

Try something new. That can be something new to downtown, or just new to you. It can be as adventurous as trying a new restaurant or salon, or as practical as trying a new bank or insurance company.

Go to to discover all that downtown has to offer. And keep in mind that the best is yet to come.