My View – June 2017

I get lots of visitors here at the Review office on California Street….today was no different. Having an accessible, in-town office is one of the things that keeps me grounded and close to the action, enabling me to stay in the know. Several times a week, folks from all walks of life pop-by to share their thoughts on all sorts of subjects, offer-up story ideas, share newsworthy tidbits and get my take on things. This one-on-one, personal contact can’t be replaced by texts, emails or phone calls and is one of the reasons the Review has that “personal touch.”

Today, a 50-something couple wandered into my office…little did they know they’d be the focus of this column. It turns out that after a few days of sightseeing and house hunting, (I’m not sure if they decided to move here before or after the sightseeing tour) they were eager to get my take on “what’s the best thing about living in a small town?” Although my immediate reaction was to share the “not-so-best” things, (that’s just how I’m built) I opted to focus on the positive instead.

As they took seats at my desk, I reached for the current issue of the Jacksonville Review and pointed to the cover. Excitedly I said, “This is the best part…the people who make this town happen…this publication reflects a spirit and ethic of volunteerism that’s at the heart of this town. Before moving here, I don’t think many of us volunteered that much and we didn’t get as personally involved.”

Somehow I sensed they were expecting me to have said that the BEST part of living here was the weather, the cost of living, the lack of big-city traffic, the ambiance…the history.

“Life in a small town,” I added, “is different…but those who get involved and share their passion with others…the artists, the hikers, the history buffs, the music and wine lovers, the parents and teachers, the seniors…I’m convinced that they all lead a fuller life here in Jacksonville…they’re the ones who make the difference.”

Just then, I paused for a moment before telling them, “It’s really hard to believe that next month’s Review is my 100th issue as editor and publisher…that’s a LOT of ink…a ton of paper…so many words…so many stories…so many great people who’ve made it possible.”

At that moment, I’m pretty sure my sermon clicked and they got my drift. After handing them my card, they moved to the door and thanked me for my time and my insight. Before leaving, the woman turned and said, “Oh, in case you’re wondering, we’re definitely moving here…to your Small Town with Big Atmosphere!”