In my (newly official!) role as civic activist, I have started attending meetings of a few town boards, including the local downtown revitalization committee for a nearby village that last saw good economic times in 1880 as a whaling port. When some joker found out there was oil in the ground, not just thousands of miles out to sea in the carcass of some leviathan, the whaling/blubber business kind of went bust, and the locals went back to growing turnips and raking quahogs.
Tourists sort of didn’t exist back then, unless you count some quack who lived alone on Walden Pond for two years and spouted all sorts of hedonistic nonsense about marching to a different drummer.
And then the village sort of all burned down in 1920.
These days this burg is home to a somewhat morose strip of fifties-era gift and antique shops, a pretty decent Mexican/pizza joint, and a few nasty quik-e-marts, a Ballbuster video store, and an outpost of a soul-crushingly large pharmacy chain. There’s a pretty strong contingent of citizens, landowners, and business owners who are pushing a new zoning bylaw through to encourage mixed use and architectural basepoints…
I’ve already lost you, haven’t I.
Well, yeah, that’s kind of the problem. Nobody ever said zoning was sexy, right?
So help me out here folks — we’ve got a town-wide informational meeting coming up (OK, OK, it’s a goddamn spaghetti dinner — I feel forty years older already), and I need to come up with a way to get people excited about the project. It involves no tax increase, tax breaks for participating small businesses, affordable housing, the reversal and beautification of blight, and free pot for everyone.
Maybe a kissing booth for each signator on the petition?
A gift certificate to the local brothel?
A year’s supply of blubber?