by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Earlier this week I was chatting with my new friend Lynda Annick about what Ashtabula really wants. Lynda said the Ashtabula Downtown Development Association (ADDA) had done a poll and discovered that, more than anything else, people wanted a Trader Joe's.
I could certainly understand. I'm from Santa Barbara, which has three TJ's. All three are filled with happy people enjoying the samples handed out in the back and the multitude of products which are moderately priced, useful and oh, so, yummy.
Having a Trader Joe's right down town on Main Avenue would draw people from all over the County.
A idea of having a Trader Joe's, I suspect, also provides a direction for what we all want Ashtabula to become. If you are going to dream, dream big. It is our dreams which mobilize us and bring action.
I have a dream for Ashtabula. In some ways our town is like Santa Barbara. It was established beside a large body of water, which can draw commerce, creating jobs and capital, and attract people for recreation. Like the coast which holds Santa Barbara, the coast where our town was built is beautiful, filled with life, though it, like us, it is struggling for recovery.
And we can learn from those who have solved problems now being confronted here.
Santa Barbarans are active. People, poor and rich alike, work hard for their community. Each year a telethon takes place to benefit one specific non-profit, Unity Shoppe, the brain child of one woman, Barbara Tallefson.
Unity Shoppe's motto is, "I Believe in Unity.” It took Barbara years to persuade people using other approaches. She did so by demonstrating how her plan could relieve needs and serve everyone. Today, Santa Barbara helps more than 22,000 people every year. By eliminating duplication of services, dollars were saved, help became personal, restoring dignity.
A vision motivates us. Action relies on persistence and cooperation.
No place in America has more unrealized potential for change or a people more earnestly want it than Ashtabula. And we have advantages Santa Barbara does not.
Ashtabula, City and County, have a far greater unrealized potential for prosperity. We sit at a nexus for transportation, positioned to make change happen in every possible way. Clean industry established here can not only change Ashtabula, but flow out to the rest of America bringing jobs, prosperity, and the Trader Joe's we all want.