My wife and I were out for a drive the other day, admiring the scenic beauty off Highway 136, kids firmly strapped into their car seats, snacks in hand, which is about the only time and place adult conversation seems to freely flow these days.
As we admired the Iowa landscape, our conversation drifted to RAGBRAI. We noticed all the energy and community spirit RAGBRAI stirred up around here. We noticed the flags and signs of welcome along the route through the county. We noticed the new art installed around the city.
We saw committees throwing themselves at hospitality, like the proud parents of a bride making sure the big day goes off without a hitch, while also keeping in mind that Uncle Jim will inevitably cause a scene at the bar.
We noticed clean-up crews assembled to knock down brush and weeds, tending to long neglected nooks and crannies of our city. Even near the dip site there was a long standing blighted property that came down and was tidied up with the speed and haste of a newlywed frantically cleaning for an impromptu visit from the in-laws—although this could have been a delightful coincidence.
For a minute there Clinton was electric. And my wife turned to me and said, “Why can’t it be like this all the time?”
Her question stirred something in me. It stirred a conviction that the collective energy we all witnessed can really be harnessed to seek the renewal of the city “all the time.”
RAGBRAI manifested a latent energy that exists here. There is real power in our midst. There is a force to be conjured if we are willing. It’s clear that our community, when properly motivated, has the potential to reshape the landscape of Clinton for the good of Clinton. Let’s do this all the time.
I know, I know, we can’t expect ourselves to operate at the fever pitch pace it takes to pull off a big event like RAGBRAI. But what if these flash-in-the-pan efforts got us licking our chops for more. What if what we all witnessed inspired more of us to throw our hearts in the slow cooker.
What if we put our passion for city renewal on slow and low, let that baby marinate for more than a week, try all year. We’ve now tasted what it’s like to put in the effort. Let’s not settle for complaining around the table, yelling for steak, when all the effort we are willing to put forward is unwrapping a slice of yellow cheese.
I guess what I’m saying is that it’s clear our community can come together to pull off some pretty amazing work. Let’s be inspired together. Let’s allow our imaginations to see the possibilities our collective good work can bring to Clinton. Together we can make Clinton flourish all the time.
Nick Powell, Clinton