Projects need more light bulbs not government

Published 12:34 am Sunday, November 11, 2007

Friday night’s eighth annual Angels on the Bluff event at the Natchez City Cemetery seemed to be a huge, inspiring, success.

The weather was amazing — often times it’s freezing cold during the event — and the history-laden edutainment was better than ever.

Each visit to the City Cemetery yields a lesson somehow. Some are “life lessons” learned through visiting the graves of the fallen.

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Others are history lessons — such as the myriad of facts presented to locals and visitors alike at Angels on the Bluff.

But this year, it was a “forward-looking” lesson that struck me.

Friday night, somewhere between Revolutionary War hero Maj. Isaac Guion and slave, turned National Medal of Honor winner Wilson Brown, the light bulb went off.

Natchez’s talented and passionate residents are the key to its future.

Too often we look to our elected officials for leadership and too often we’re disappointed at what they provide.

We just finished a county election in which some candidates promised to work to create “good-paying jobs” for the area.

That sounds good, but the only jobs government creates are generally bureaucratic in nature. And if they’re “good paying” then the taxpayer is probably paying too much for something.

No, government isn’t necessarily the answer to the question: how can our community move ahead.

Government tends to move slowly and move only in the direction of the vocal majority.

But people, like the good, hard-working volunteers who have made huge differences in our community, can make government pay attention.

Angels on the Bluff is a prime example of volunteerism at its best. The Cemetery Board identified a need to raise funds for the historic cemetery so they mobilized and came up with a plan. Now, eight years later, the event seems to run like clockwork.

Volunteers coordinate the event, volunteers lead the tours and volunteers reenact the history.

But the evidence of the power of regular folks is all around us.

Look at the Natchez Spring Pilgrimage and how impacting it is on our economy. It was begun by a group of ladies who were being hospitable to out of town guests. Now it’s the biggest event we have.

We just finished another huge event last month — the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race.

Again, volunteers recognized a need and kicked into action.

So what’s holding us back from working as a community on other projects?

Lots of people have talked about working on a recreation project here in Adams County. What would happen if all of the groups who have an interest in this come together to help make it happen?

It might seem like a no-brainer, but there is significant power in numbers.

Sure, the city and county have begun talking about “doing something” on the recreation issue. Natchez Mayor Phillip West is promoting the hiring of a consultant to build a plan of what we need, a plan that may cost up to $100,000.

Rather than wait on politicians to dream up a “plan” for us, maybe the people, not the politicians, should get together and build a plan of what we need.

From there, the group can then rally the troops and figure out how to fund it. If it requires anything from government, the power of the group could sway the government into action.

With a little ingenuity and some hard work, together, nothing can stop the spirit of the Natchez people. We just need to get empowered to realize that things can get done without elected officials and without a government grant.

All we need is a few light bulbs to go off and get a few people inspired.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or