Post Thanksgiving and Still Thankful

Still vibrant after all these years.

Still vibrant after all these years.

A friend of mine sent me an old Power Point a few days before Thanksgiving.

They were combing through the archives and came upon a presentation a bunch of us gave in 2003 at a conference called Transforming Local Government.

The Power Point chronicled the city’s efforts to craft a Downtown Master Plan in 2001 and the hard fought efforts that were made to involve the community in the vision.

The old photos brought back a flood of memories—there were many faces I hadn’t seen in a while. Some people have moved away. Some people have passed away. Many are still involved; others were once deeply involved and have now faded from the scene.

Accompanying the email was a note: “I had almost forgotten how far this city has come. I had almost forgotten how much was accomplished.” Indeed.

In the rush of time, in the hectic pace of our lives and the blizzard of “stuff” we have to deal with—we too often sacrifice perspective and appreciation.

We don’t stop to be present, but we also don’t slow down to look back or look ahead.

I think to be a healthy, balanced person we need to do all three: appreciate the moment, be grateful for what we’ve experienced and plan for the future with a hopeful heart.

I think the same goes for communities, businesses and organizations.

It’s wise to appreciate where you are on the journey—this very moment when you just made something happen in your city, when you just inked a sale for your company, booked a great act for your arts organization or hit send on a piece you are about to publish.

As I looked at the power point slide show, I caught a photo of my daughter at age 11. Sam is soon to be 27 and is now teaching special education in Tampa. But in this slide she was still my little girl, ponytails, glasses, peasant dress working at a table with other kids drawing their vision of what they wanted their hometown downtown to look and feel like.

I wonder where some of these young people are today. Are they still in Delray? Did some of them go off to school and come home to start families here? Are we doing enough to make this place their place? Are we thinking about the future? Their future? I saw some photos of some older residents who have passed and I smiled. They were old many years ago and still found it important to participate, to care, to plan for a future they must have known they might not see.

After viewing that long presentation, I took the dogs and took a long walk through a park.

It was a glorious Florida day—perfect temperatures, perfect, peaceful.

Dogs live in the moment and have so much to teach us if we care to look. But I also believe they are clued in to our emotions and moods. My mood was an odd mix of happy and reflective. The dogs were just happy to be out and sniffing around. So was I.

I’m not immune to the headlines—venomous politics, heroin, crime, poverty all of which weighs even heavier (if that’s possible) during the holiday season. But…I also found myself feeling good about where I am and where I live.

I thought about how privileged I was to be given an opportunity to serve a community…my community…this community especially.

It wasn’t easy. And if they tell you it was, they weren’t there.

But wow was it ever good.

That old power point—from a place far, far away and yet right around the block, was a reminder of what can be accomplished when you capture positive energy, ask people to work together and dream of a better tomorrow. Did we get all we dreamt about? No, you never do. Nor should you.

But we did move the needle…

We built something special. More importantly, we had something special. I think it’s called love of community. I think it’s called civic pride, optimism and belief. If you collect those ingredients, I assure you there is nothing you can’t do. If you tolerate the opposite—hatred, blame, negativity and distrust—you put it all at risk.

The beauty of life, business and community is there is always more to do. For that we ought to be thankful. It’s motivation to pursue progress.

I believe the best is yet to come but that statement comes with a big caveat: only if we harness the power of neighbors coming together and working toward a better tomorrow.

Sounds hokey? Maybe to the cynics, but those of who believe know it works.




  1. To “care and to plan”, and always be willing to “contribute” . That’s what has made Delray a special place.

    Kerry Koen

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.