Robbie Sullivan: Looking at city through a ‘lens of gratitude’

  • In this 2016 file photo, kids play in a rock fountain during the reopening of the newly redesigned Pulaski Park in Northampton. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 4/9/2019 7:30:16 PM

Nothing is ever perfect, or finished. There’s always room for improvement.

It saddens me, though, that some people seem so quick to forget what makes Northampton great. Natural beauty and open spaces. Public schools. Arts and entertainment. Buses. Bike paths. Farmers markets and community gardens. Athletic fields. A one-of-a-kind downtown, and an energized Florence Village. Sojourner Truth. Look Park.

Some residents can trace their roots here back a few centuries, and their heritage and traditions are honored, while others, immigrants who would today be sent away, are protected, so they too can put down roots. My Northampton encourages diversity, and celebrates it with words and deeds.

We have something communities across the country only hope for: a police chief and law enforcement that are willing to look at, make changes in, and improve how they keep us safe, for which they deserve our help, respect and support, not suspicion and antagonism.

My grown children bring their friends home to experience Northampton. They go downtown to eat, have coffee and dessert. Grab a drink. Buy a book, or a gift, or a pair of shoes, or nothing. They visit NETA. They sit in Pulaski Park. They walk along the Mill River, or over the Connecticut River, or through Smith College.

They can see the history in the neighborhoods, homes topped with solar panels, transformed mill buildings, some green construction. What doesn’t happen when we have visitors? They don’t tally empty storefronts and ask who is to blame. They don’t count how many people ask for money, but they might wonder what can be done to help.

They often say they’d already heard about Northampton, and that they’ll be back. That makes me happy, and I think, maybe then, we’ll be more diverse, with more opportunities for more people. That’s something to strive for.

My wish for our city is that we can look through the lens of gratitude, especially when facing hot topics and heated debate. We have the historical benefit of being a thoughtful, brave, passionate and innovative people.

Let’s put our communal best effort forward, and offer more proof of our model city.

Robbie Sullivan

Northampton




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