Time to bring back Pos­i­tively Amherst?

The Amherst News - - OP-ED - Les­lie Childs Les­lie Childs is a mem­ber of the Amherst News Com­mu­nity Editorial Panel.

Look­ing for a life les­son? Well, here it is ….

You’ve got to ac­cen­tu­ate the pos­i­tive

Elim­i­nate the neg­a­tive Latch on to the af­fir­ma­tive Don’t mess with Mis­ter In-Be­tween

You’ve got to spread joy up to the max­i­mum

Bring gloom down to the min­i­mum

Have faith or pan­de­mo­nium Li­able to walk upon the scene Sev­eral things in re­cent weeks have been cir­cling in my brain as top­ics for to­day’s col­umn, but it wasn’t un­til I re­mem­bered this song that they all came to­gether.

These lyrics, writ­ten in 1944 by Johnny Mercer with mu­sic by Harold Arlen, were fea­tured in a Sec­ond World War era film, “Here Come the Waves” when tak­ing a pos­i­tive stance was es­sen­tial to the war ef­fort. Just a few months later, the song spent 13 weeks on the Bill­board Charts. Over the years, it has been recorded by just about ev­ery big star, right up to to­day with Paul McCart­ney and Barry Manilow record­ing cov­ers in 2012. In fact, the song is now reg­is­tered in the Amer­i­can Li­brary of Congress as hav­ing “cul­tural, artis­tic and/or his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cant to Amer­i­can So­ci­ety…”. Pretty heady praise, I’d say.

The se­cret to mak­ing a change for the bet­ter is not moan­ing about how bad things are but rather iden­ti­fy­ing good things, talking them up, and mov­ing for­ward. So like Johnny Mercer, I am shar­ing some re­cent ex­pe­ri­ences that spot­light the pos­i­tive right here at home.

There’s lots of neg­a­tive talk out there: the Amer­i­can sit­u­a­tion, Brexit, tsunamis! Mil­len­ni­als and the young peo­ple are “tied to their de­vises and so self-ab­sorbed that they never raise their eyes to those around them, so here’s some good news.

A young man, a new sea cadet, not yet 12 years old, ap­proached me as I was strug­gling with a heavy load of bags and parcels and asked if he could help. His of­fer sur­prised me and I was de­lighted by his an­i­mated con­ver­sa­tion as we strug­gled through sev­eral trips to de­liver my load. What a plea­sure to find a cheer­ful, com­pe­tent young per­son.

And he’s not alone. Also re­cently, a young woman, a to­tal stranger, waited and held the door to the mall for me; later, I dropped a bunch of pa­pers in the park­ing lot and three peo­ple stopped their day to chase them down. And, the Town of Amherst’s web­site and Face­book page now reg­u­larly posts Town Coun­cil and Com­mit­tee Agen­das, in­vites cit­i­zens to at­tend meet­ings, and pub­li­cizes lo­cal events. Feels like we are in the loop again. Thank you ev­ery­one!

The big news though has to do with the huge suc­cess of Amherst Area Her­itage Trust’s (AAHT’s) first com­mu­nity event, “An Evening of Art and War: Mr. Lis­mer Comes to Town” that re­cently took place at the James Lay­ton Ralston Ar­moury. De­spite the snow storm, about 90 peo­ple turned out to see the war art of Arthur Lis­mer, a found­ing mem­ber of Cana­dian’s in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized Group of Seven, and hear about the man him­self. Good food, a suc­cess­ful silent auc­tion and lots of good con­ver­sa­tion. Thank you to our guests and mem­bers. Your en­thu­si­asm counts…which brings me to an im­por­tant point. As a “Come From Away”, I had never ex­pe­ri­enced an event at the ar­moury un­til now. What an amaz­ing space, warm, invit­ing, and friendly; the kind of place that lends it­self to so­cial­iz­ing, net­work­ing, and just good vibes. It’s not just the size; it’s the at­mos­phere, the mem­o­ries, the his­tory that make the space work its won­ders.

Ev­ery­one com­mented on how en­er­gized they felt and we came away with com­mit­ments for more ef­forts to Save the Ar­moury, build AAHT’s pro­file, and move for­ward with two new projects de­signed to ac­cen­tu­ate the pos­i­tives of Amherst’s unique and sig­nif­i­cant build­ings to our fu­ture econ­omy, cul­tural growth, and lo­cal pride.

Re­mem­ber those POS­I­TIVELY AMHERST li­cence plates? I’ve seen a few lately. Maybe we could use some more? Why not talk to a coun­cil­lor about ar­rang­ing for some?

Do you have any pos­i­tives you’d like to share? You can mes­sage me [email protected]

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