Most folks have heard the expression : “every cloud has a silver lining” It’s an idiom meaning: Every bad situation has some good aspect to it. This proverb is usually said as an encouragement to a person who is overcome by some difficulty and is unable to see any positive way forward. The expression goes all the way back to John Milton when he coined the phrase ‘silver lining’ in the play Comus in 1634.
I wonder does that expression apply to cities as well?
I bumped into a business acquaintance today an we got to talking about Saint John, it’s historic and current list of municipal leaders or lank thereof and the opinions vary depending on who you talk to.
At one point he told me he doesn’t read my stuff any more because I’m to negative. This statement caused to to retreat into a reflective state and I begin to wonder? Does writing and reporting about serious unaddressed municipal obstacles make me negative?
If the weatherman reports we are going to have a sold week of rain does that make him negative? I suppose he could throw in it’s going to be great for the flowers and the lawn and that would be the silver lining.
I have to admit since i am a person who built and ran a company in a highly competitive industry for over 35 years I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out how we delivered better value to our customers. That meant focusing and being critical about our short comings as a company and how do we improve. I plead guilty to bringing my business philosophy to municipal government.
What difference does it make if our municipal “cloud” is a City that doesn’t use bench marking for services, doesn’t use municipal sustainability index methodology, has the highest property tax rate in the province, has residential housing in many cases selling below the assessed value, has a declining population, has commercial and retail vacancies over 20%, have the highest child poverty rate in Canada? Perhaps my business acquaintance would have us all as the song goes “Don’t worry be happy”. After all we’re still the Renaissance City right?
So where is Saint John’s “silver lining”? We probably have some of the best historic architecture in Canada as well as the most friendly and generous folks in Canada. I had relatives up from the states this summer and they couldn’t believe how friendly and helpful forks are in Saint John. These are an important part of our silver lining.
Now if we ever get some folks in City Hall that can get their act together and move this City on the road to recovery, a place where companies and families want to put down roots, we will have it made in in the shade as well.
Tell me am I being negative……… again?