This week someone said I was in denial about the City of Harrisburg.
The online anonymous commentator didn’t expound on the remark, nor give any reasoning other than (s)he basically believes the city is a hellhole and anyone who says otherwise is nuts.
That would include me.
Yes, that pretty much wraps it up as far as that person is concerned. Usually I ignore those types of comments and that stance in general—-the one that disparages the city outright refusing to budge, compromise, or discuss the potential of Harrisburg.
But this week I pondered the sentiment.
Am I in denial?
Is the City of Harrisburg wretched, irreparable, and hopeless? Will the parking system keep everyone away forever? Will the pitted, darkened, trashy streets never be smooth, lit, or clean? Will the blight stay blighted and the vacancy stay vacant and so many people stay downtrodden? Is Harrisburg doomed to be the bane of the region?
The fact is, those are just the most common problems easily seen at a glance. Never mind the social, political, and community tensions we have in the city that come from decades of under-service and under-education.
As city residents, we battle one another and outsiders with a ferocity that wears down the soul and exhausts will.
So we are seemingly left with a de-passioned population unable to muster the resolve to make this place better.
And all the naysayers are right.
But then, I took a walk. I chatted with neighbors and gave a passerby directions to a playground. I went to the Broad Street Market. Along the way, I saw a block party from afar. A little kid helped me pick up litter. The nearby community garden was filled with harvest. Three homes were being worked on. Two businesses are opening up. I found a mural I had never seen before. The sunset over the river was amazing and a Yellow-crowned Night Heron flew over my head.
That’s when I realized something I already knew. Never mind the cynics, the haters, and the ridiculous comments from those who don’t even live here. There’s a lot of positive, enthusiastic energy being spread around and plenty of good people making it happen.
When I peer too closely at the “bad” stuff, I get down. I think about it, I talk about it, I get stressed about it. I worry about my neighborhood, my house value, and my well-being. I’m an optimistic person, generally, so when I get pessimistic, it makes me tense and has a tendency to make others around me uncomfortable, too.
There’s a broad group of us that need each other to keep the spirits up so we can trudge along through this muck until we get to some clearer terrain. And it’s there. Ahead on the horizon.
Harrisburg has an enormous amount of potential. It’s just a matter of initiative, time, and patience.
Am I in denial? No, I don’t think so. I acknowledge there’s a lot broken. I’ll point out some of what it is. But you won’t find me just sitting there deploring Harrisburg.
There’s too much else to do around here….no denying that.