Context, Community & Optimism


Last week, we talked about symptoms–controversies that emerge because of fear.
Fear of overdevelopment, fear of traffic, fear of parking problems, fear of change and fear of bad design.
All of these fears are legitimate and there is near universal agreement that all of the problems outlined above should be avoided at all costs. But unfortunately life and community building are never as black-and-white as we might like them to be.
Issues are nuanced and filled with variables that sometimes we can’t see.

Most worthwhile endeavors in life come with trade-offs. If you want something you usually have to give something up to get it: when it comes to cities that decision is typically made by mayors and city commissioners.
When development occurs, there is an impact. It might be traffic, it might be construction noise and it may be the closing of an alley.

It’s up to policy makers to determine whether the upside is worth the impact.
But we rarely take about benefits anymore.

And that’s a shame because focusing almost solely on impacts skews the debate and denies the public a chance to see and understand issues.

For example, there was a short story last week about the CRA in which the focus seemed to be on the budgetary impact the CRA has on the city’s coffers due to the way these agencies are set up using tax increment financing.
But in order to fully understand the issue readers need context and to see the whole picture before they can render an informed opinion.
For example, the CRA already gives substantial financial support to the city and has for years –paying for items that range from police officers and infrastructure  to supporting key non profit partners that would need a larger subsidy from the city if not for the CRA. CRA money does not go down some dark hole, it’s reinvested in the community, largely in neighborhoods that need help.

I think the CRA has been invaluable to Delray Beach and that its success and track record of getting things done has benefitted our city far beyond its district.
Property values citywide are up and rising faster than neighboring cities in large part–in my opinion–because of the work of the CRA.
Congress Avenue and other parts of our city have become viable business and investment opportunities thanks to the work of the CRA, Delray Marketing Cooperative, DDA, police, fire , the city and others.

How do I know this? Because I’m talking to people making investments on Congress and many have said they wouldn’t have looked at the corridor 15 years ago but now feel it represents an extension of the Delray brand, which has value. Businesses want to be here. People want to live here.
In addition, quality of life– often hard to measure– has been improved as well as a result of a more vibrant city.

These are just some nuances that are important to consider when judging the value of an agency,  project, development or initiative. I happen to think the most value can found in the intangibles; not just the tax revenue, building permit fees or raw numbers we often see bandied about. Those are important too, but the most important aspects of any initiative are often the subtle benefits that make all the difference.
Examples: energy, civic pride, attracting difference makers to your community and creating opportunities.
As a result, I’m a firm believer that leaders need to be optimists. They need to be cognizant and worried about impacts but also aware and excited by benefits.
Ideally, they have a growth mindset, and see themselves as problem solvers.

They work hard to mitigate impacts, but never lose sight of benefits.
We need more optimism in our politics and in our communities.
Problem solving enables us to progress. Change can and should be managed, but cannot and should not be stopped.

Weekend Best Bets: Weekend Starts Tonight

Plaid Blazer (Dave owns a few) will rock the Elizabeth Wesley Pavilion tonight.

Plaid Blazer (Dave owns a few) will rock the Elizabeth Wesley Pavilion tonight.

On the Ave “Back to Cool”

Date: August 21

What: “On The Ave”

When: 6-10pm

Cost: Free

Where: SW 5th Ave & W Atlantic Ave

On the Ave welcomes you “Back to Cool” by bringing the ever popular event to West Atlantic this time. The August 21st event will feature entertainment that is both Old School and New Cool. The event will bring back classic childhood games such a duck-duck-goose, tug-of-war and musical chairs. There will be a Kid’s Corner, Splash Zone and a backpack giveaway from Florida Kid Care. Bands on two stages will take you “back to cool” with songs from a mix of artists such as James Brown, Whitney Houston, The Roots and more.

Art School Open House

For all of you aspiring artists, you won’t want to miss the upcoming Open House at the Boca Raton Museum of Art – The Art School.

This free annual event will be held Saturday, August 23, from 1-4 p.m. at the school located at 801 West Palmetto Park Road, one mile east of 1-95.

Visitors will be able to view the faculty exhibit and meet  the artists/teachers in the art studios and discuss their classes.

“We have, perhaps, the finest faculty in South Florida,” said Walter O’Neill, director. “Potential students will be able to visit with these teachers to get a preview of the classes and to see some of the outstanding artwork being produced by the faculty.”

The Art School offers a wide range of classes in virtually every medium and discipline for beginners to experienced artists. Classes are offered in portraiture, still life and landscape painting, as well as photography, pottery, collage, jewelry making and sculpture, among many others.   Award-winning teachers lead classes in oil, watercolor, acrylic, and drawing, to name just a few.

“This is a perfect time to meet the teachers and learn more about the adult art classes,” added O’Neill. “Visitors will be able to visit the studios and see short demonstrations on making pottery, stone carving, print making, and other techniques.”

There will be a free raffle to win $100 discount on an art course. Each person who signs up for a class during Open House receives a one-day pass for two at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

For more information call 561-392-2503

 Visit for information about upcoming art classes.


Weekend Best Bets: Summer Specials

The DBMC shares some summer ideas, including Sandoway House options for kids of all ages.

The DBMC shares some summer ideas, including Sandoway House options for kids of all ages.

The Legendary Johnny Cash

The Arts Garage’s production of “Ring of Fire” has been a huge critical and commercial hit with sold out shows and rave reviews.

A few tickets remain for matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

The show features the music of the legendary Johnny Cash.

Visit for tickets and more information, but hurry tickets are selling.

 Oh What A Night

While we’re talking about music legends, walk like a man (sorry we couldn’t resist) and make sure to see Jersey Boys at a theater near you this weekend.

Don’t believe the reviews, the movie is terrific and the music of the Four Seasons is sublime.

It’s also just a great story of four guys from Newark who made it in a very tough business with a unique sound and infectious songs.

Word of warning: the music will stick in your head. The movie includes most of the hits including killer versions of “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”


Summer Happenings courtesy of the DBMC


The From Ordinary to Extraordinary: Paper as Art exhibition at the Cornell Museum in the Delray Beach Center for the Arts showcases a world where ordinary paper has been transformed into extraordinary works of art. The exhibit runs until Aug. 24. There’s a $5 admission fee. Nearby, there’s Art Cinema at The Crest every Wednesday, with screenings at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. followed by a group discussion. There’s a $10 fee.


At the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Sushi & Stroll is back for three more Fridays:  July 11, Aug. 8 and Sept. 12. Events are from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and include Taiko drumming performances. Tickets are $7.


Visitors can take a “Ride & Remember” Trolley Tour, hosted by the Spady Museum on July 12, Aug. 9 and Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to noon at a cost of $20.


Summer at the Sandoway House Nature Center is when people will find the Jurassic Parts exhibit, featuring hundreds of shark parts through Aug. 31 for $4. Don’t miss daily shark feedings while you’re there.


Art Walk in Downtown Delray, offering visitors a chance to view special artist showings at galleries and studios in the Pineapple Grove Art District, is back on the first Friday of every month.


Great Things to Do and Summer Specials

Residents and tourists will find no place cooler than Delray Beach for water sports and for summer discounts at golf courses, tennis centers and most hotels and attractions. For example, if a full day of golf is too much, they can head over to Putt’n Around Delray Beach for a round of mini golf.


Delray Yacht Cruises is offering special rates for its two-hour daily narrated Intracoastal cruises and on brunch and dinner cruises.

Along with a great beach, you’ll find cool things under the sea when scuba diving, or snorkeling. Scuba Center Delray can get you set up. For fun on the water try paddle boarding, sailing and surfing. Delray Beach Watersports and newcomers The Salt Fly specialize in these kind of activities.


For wine and art connoisseurs, Vino Van Gogh Wine and Art Bar in Pineapple Grove offers a summer special of two classes and two glasses of wine – one each for you and a friend, or two for you – for $50.