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What Does Stratford Want?

Stratford has been without a true identity for too long, enabling inactivity to define us. It's time to take control of the conversation and organize around what we want and what we want to be.

Motivated by a recent question series that friend and blogger posted on her own blog, What Does America Want?, I began asking the same question about our town.

In talking to residents, the obvious answer is lower taxes. But I challenge us to consider more deeply than that. Perhaps the real question is What Does Stratford Want to Be?

Residents are frustrated by what they feel is a lack of progress and cohesive vision. Additionally, the same departments and budget items consistently seem to draw ire for wasteful spending. The parties of "D" and "R" next to candidates' names have replaced what's most important: that we all belong to "S" -- Stratford.

Outsiders who rely on search engines and press to tell our story will find divisive politics, ghostly remains of theaters and Army buildings, an airport we don't control, and sleight-of-hand ownership with beach referendums.

When did Stratford lose control of the conversation? And how do we begin to regain ownership of our town and it's identity?

There are two obstacles that have prevented us from moving forward, I think. Individually, they are not insurmountable but they become quicksand when mixed together.

One, Stratford's compartmentalized geography makes it difficult to have a cohesive identity. We have some separate and very small pedestrian-friendly commercial areas; waterfront and beach; a nearly forgotten forest; a unique public park; light industrial and small manufacturing businesses; prominent empty and unused buildings; and an abundance of untapped potential.

Second, we haven't had a continuum of leaders maintaining focus on any one thing and seen it to fruition. Let's pick just one area of town, one project, one pie-in-the-sky idea from our wish list, rally around it and finally get it done.

We did it with the animal shelter but it's too easy to forget the hard-won success of building the new shelter when it's not in a high-traffic area with continued exposure.

Why not the next? An accomplishment of that magnitude would provide momentum for the next success, and the next. Finally, we'd be able to close chapters and move on instead of wallowing in years of inactivity.

I was able to see Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, speak at the World Business Forum last week, and his message was largely about the national economy, which he called an "emergency situation."

Stratford is a microcosm of the rest of the country, and I couldn't help see the similarities when Schultz talked about the dysfunction of political gridlock and asked, "Is this the best we can get? Don't we deserve more?"

As Schultz implored in his presentation, if you hear or see something that isn't right, you must stand up. "We are better than this, we deserve more than this. Please do not be a bystander," he said.

The people of Stratford need to become active partners with elected officials to work in concert defining what Stratford wants and what Stratford wants to be. It's up to us.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Robyn Greenspan October 14, 2011 at 10:27 PM
Thanks, Gail, and to everyone who posted such thoughtful comments and ideas. It's clear that people who live here care about Stratford but there seems to be a sense of "disheartenment" that's permeated us. I'd like us to work on re-energizing the town together.
George E. Mulligan October 16, 2011 at 08:44 AM
May Occupy Wall Street > peaceful protest > lead to more "real candidates" on ballots who obey their conscience, public interests, & self respect, rather then HOBBSON CHOICES of the same ole / same ole Merry-go-Round of Party Hacks. - I respect people who make their positions known. - RepubliCAN'TS are NOT Republicans DEMONcRATS are NOT Democrats - In the RTC & DTC (& resigned from them), are CREATURES who look human, but are (financial & political) ghouls & vampires, much like John Carpenter's 1980s movie with wrestling star Roddy Piper "They Live." - When the finance problems destroy the pensions, jobs. and gravy train for Teachers, Police, Fire, Lawyers, and Town Committee power, JUST WATCH HOW THEY WILL TURN ON EACH OTHER after DECADES of BLUE WALL & OMERTA. - I think & pray Olivia & Robyn are who they appear to be. - Stratford, CT., & America need true INDEPENDENCE .
Robyn Greenspan October 16, 2011 at 04:24 PM
George, I am who I am and I have no personal agenda for my campaign. Like other Stratford residents, I'm suffering from "expectation fatigue" and want us to make the right decisions to drive progress. Elected officials don't have to always be right or have all the answers, but they should be honest, accountable and listen to those they represent. That's what I want to do as a Council member. Robyn
gail jarvis October 16, 2011 at 05:47 PM
Robyn You are so On-Target with your analysis. While you are a Stratford Resident your thoughts and comments can be applied to "AnyTown USA" that is suffering from enuii. Your thoughts are not only Great--They are Necessary. GJ
Robyn Greenspan October 16, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Thanks, Gail! I can only hope you are a 9th district voter! :-)

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