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When we build it, they will come!

Early this year two out-of-town visitors came to our town and they were looking for unique shops to browse and local places of interest to visit. Do you know what questions they were asking? Well, here they are: How far is it to the art gallery in Bainbridge? Do you have any literature on the murals in Colquitt? How far is Thomasville from here? This last one really hit home with me – Can you tell me how to get to Havana, Florida? 

I grew up in Calvary, and every Friday night of my entire youth, until I got my driver’s license, I tagged along with my parents as they joined friends for dinner in Tallahassee. Each week, we would meet two of their friends at their store in downtown Havana. We always arrived early, and while we waited for their shop to close, I would walk the streets of downtown Havana. This was in the early 70s and Havana was booming. However, shortly after that, Havana began to die. Downtown businesses closed, crime increased and Havana became just a blur of buildings you quickly passed by on the way to Tallahassee. 

The community was at a crossroads and had decisions to make if they were going to survive and prosper again. The community came together, made a plan and worked the plan. Today, people are asking me how to get to Havana because it is a desired destination full of shops and cafes, and all of it is marketed very well.

Donalsonville and Seminole County have not traveled down the same road as Havana; however, for us to grow, our community was in need of a major shift in our thinking. We realized that and we have turned progress thinking into some progress acting. 

When the BetterWay Initiative began, this question was asked of the planners. With an unlimited budget, what would you do to make the quality of life in our community better, enhance our current assets, add additional ones and make this a desired destination for visitors? We have dreams for growth and prosperity; we just needed to come together as a community and develop a plan, work the plan and then start expecting the results.

Would you like to see our downtown more alive and entertaining?

Would you like to see the history of our community on display all the time?

Would you like to see the historical elements of our community saved, revitalized and positioned as assets?

Would you like to see more visitors coming into our community to visit our shops and to take advantage of our opportunities?

Each project currently being undertaken in this community –  on multiple levels and by multiple parties  – is designed to do all of the above; we just need to remember that all of it works best when we are working together.

When the next person asks me for directions to some other little community in our area, I want to shift their attention to Seminole County and show them a community that showcases where we have been, where we are and where we are going.  

We are creating an atmosphere of excitement and family fun, and if we continue to work together to accentuate our positives and add additional ones to the list, the people and the benefits will come. 

But most importantly, if we make our dream a reality, we will have made life here in our community better for the people that live and work here each and every day – each of us.

Someone said to me once, “David, this isn’t Bainbridge” inferring that we are a smaller town with a smaller budget. We may be smaller, but our dreams are bigger. No, this isn’t Bainbridge, but it IS Donalsonville and Seminole County. We have the people and the assets right now and we are actively working to make greater things happen in our community. 

Watch out South Georgia. Watch out world. The citizens of this community are visualizing the reality of living in a brighter and shinier city on a hill. We are all that is great about Seminole County. Let’s show the world why.

Help us fire up the dream.  

Mark your calendars for Saturday evening, May 13th for the fund raising kickoff gala event to begin the campaign to transform Donalsonville’s former fire station into an art gallery, museum, cultural center and event venue. Tickets are now on sale at the Donalsonville News, the Chamber of Commerce and City Hall. 

There is power in numbers. Let’s work together and make this happen!

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