Some months ago, a community group, while embarking on a new project, began using the saying, ‘yes, we can have nice things in Whitewater.’ One supposes that they meant the saying as an expression of optimism about their chances for success, along the lines of we can do this. It’s also probable that they intended the expression as one of desire, along the lines of we deserve this.
It was not the first time that I’ve heard this said about Whitewater, and when an account of the expression’s recent use reached me, I knew immediately whence it came.
It’s a sentiment, generally and beyond any group’s particulars, with which I very much agree: we can have, and deserve, nice things in Whitewater.
Our challenge is that nice is not a fixed quality, sealed in amber, forever unchanging. Nor is nice a thing to be decided from on-high, from a few planners and politicians. The very use of the expression is confirmation that residents will no longer settle for accepting whatever comes their way.
Sometimes nice is a simple thing, overlooked until ordinary residents voice their hopes for more, different, and better.
Look back a decade, and what does one see? Too many leaders and insiders crowing that Whitewater was the pinnacle of all the world, that change would come from them, and that to dare raise any questions about local conditions was somehow an offense against the natural order. They wanted for others little more than a lemming’s life, albeit lemmings who would smile and applaud when asked.
Time takes her toll: most of the leaders from that time have slipped from Whitewater’s public scene (some tumbling more than slipping, if the truth of it be said).
Nice things are sometimes simple, plain things, changing by definition as generations pass, unplanned from above, and decided commonly by many rather than exclusively by a few.
It’s fair to say that a grocery store would be among the plain and simple things of value to Whitewater’s consumers; it’s encouraging that residents are willing to say as much.
Update, Wednesday afternoon : There will be more to write about a new grocery when possibilities become clearer. One can confidently guess that my own position will favor private, local transactions between businesses and shoppers without government subsidy.