Issue 7, February 15, 2015

What are the attributes of a great city?  Is it geography?  A strong economy?  Great museums and theatres?  New Orleans is considered to be a ‘great city’ but also has a water damage issue.  San Francisco is a ‘great city’ but who can afford to stay there? Washington has some of the best museums in the world, but traffic anywhere near the beltway is horrendous.  When it comes down to it, great cities have worked hard to mold public perception into their ‘brand,’ despite their own shortcomings.

What is the perception of Jacksonville to the rest of the world?  What is the perception of Jacksonville to us?!  What will it take for Jacksonville to become a World-Class city?  We have most of what is needed, in place already.  E.g., history: St. Augustine, Fort Caroline and Fernandina comprise some of the earliest ‘recorded’ history in the country. We have great weather.  We have great golfing. We have an ocean, and intra-coastal waterway, and huge river (not to mention all the lakes.)  We have a very viable craft-brew industry.  We have a majority of the infrastructure needed to support grandiose activities.

I certainly don’t have all the answers.  But, from my point of view, it boils down to just 2 things that are needed: a change of attitude and time.

This change has to start within each one of us, before we can ask the rest of the world to do so.  We need to believe that this is a great place to live, work and play.

–When you think of Jacksonville’s great neighborhoods, do you conjure San Marco, Springfield, Riverside/Avondale, rather than Julington Creek, Oakleaf Plantation or Nocatee?  The former are well-established historic neighborhoods that are known for their architectural diversity and beauty.

–When someone asks about places to eat, do you recommend the multitudes of great local establishments, or refer to the national chains at the Town Center?  We have everything from food trucks to the finest dining, from barbeque to eclectic.  There is every food type or price range available here.

–If I blurt out the word: JACKSONVILLE, is your first thought of downtown along the river? There’s a reason the NFL uses these shots when they’re in town.  Or, can you not see why there is so much emphasis put on having a vibrant downtown?

It is all too easy to criticize about the direction we are heading.  That way we can go along with the nay-Sayers without actually having to get involved.  But a wise person once said: don’t complain, unless you have a viable suggestion.  So, take a good look in the mirror and decide whether you are part of the solution.

Once we can positively mold the attitudes and opinions of our residents, then it’s just a matter of time before the rest of the world acknowledges this great city, as well.

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