Start piling on positive attitude for community

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 24, 2018

Have you noticed how piling onto another’s misfortune has become almost an American pastime?

Nationally, political pundits and self-glorified critics are professional gripers. Regardless of which side of the political aisle or which position on a matter, each side seems to almost always dwell on the negative.

The same thing happens on a local level. People seem to love watching the agony and misfortunes of others.

It’s not only unbecoming, but it’s also destructive to our collective sense of hope, pride and our desire to better our community and ourselves.

An interesting discussion to have at your next church gathering is: Can you be a negative Christian? That is to say, if you believe Jesus is your savior and that we are all to love him and love one another, can you do that and walk through life as if your glass is half empty?

As a group, Christians should be the happiest people on the earth, yet sometimes we’re among the most sullen and grumpy lot. I’m as guilty as the next, but it’s interesting to put things in perspective, even if looking in that mirror causes us to wince a little. That wince may lead to a change in attitude.

The same thing can be said for citizens of a community such as Natchez.

Can you be a good leader if you only see problems and lack vision for solutions?

Can you be a good citizen if you feel the place has no future?

We are all (myself included) critical of local leaders sometimes. They do things that just infuriate us.

But rather than simply gripe and complain, turning that frustration into positive action can make a huge difference. Citizens can make a difference, when they stand up and get involved.

We can see evidence of it all around us, but it’s easy to take things for granted.

For years, Natchez’s bluff was rather ratty looking. It had a beautiful view, but you had to get past the narrow, broken sidewalks and look through the ugly chain-link fencing to see it.

A group of every day citizens, positive in approach and determined to succeed, formed the Natchez Community Alliance.

They worked hard to collect outside donations and lobbied to obtain a large grant as well and in a few years’ time the Natchez Trails Project was envisioned and implemented. Today it’s a beautiful project shared by countless visitors and locals alike.

A few years later using a similar approach the Bridge of Sighs was conceived and built as well.

All because a few people came together, had a shared vision and worked hard to implement it.

Similarly, the area’s multi-state economic development entity was formed.

Business and civic leaders saw a need to have a professional economic development firm and formed a committee, raised money and started a conversation.

What came out of it was the Natchez Now group of private businesses that help fund and steer Natchez Inc.

Later this week, a project facilitated by Natchez Inc. and the Town of Vidalia is expected to close, bringing in millions of dollars of investment and many much-needed jobs to the former Fruit of the Loom facility.

Natchez Inc. started when positive, progressive-minded people said, “We can do better; let’s figure out how.”

The recently approved downtown revitalization plan started in a similar method. Organizers of the nonprofit FOR Natchez saw opportunity and sought citizens who saw that opportunity too. The result is a roadmap to positive change in the heart of Natchez.

If all of us focus only on things that we see as problems and just gripe, nothing will get better.

If, however, we look at those problems and seek to get involved and find a solution, amazing work can be accomplished.

Much good is already in the Natchez area; much more good things are possible in the future; and all it takes is a positive attitude and a willingness to work together.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.