Friday, July 22, 2011

We are SO beautiful; let's keep it that way

It's official.  Sandpoint is beautiful.

Unofficially, those of us who've lived here most of our lives have been telling folks that for years.  It took a while for the word to catch on, though, and now the world will know just how beautiful we are. 

This morning's paper tells us that we won a contest, sponsored by big names in the media business---USA Today and Rand McNally.  

Yesterday the word spread quickly on Facebook that---after the judging, which involved visits to several communities throughout the country---Sandpoint is America's most beautiful small town.

What that will bring is now the question.  

Will we,  who love this place as it is and has been,  want all the more to put up the gates?  And, I'm not talking about gates to exclusive developments but gates to city entrances.

I heard that wild thought a few years ago from a Sandpoint High graduate who has moved on to great achievements and to a faraway place clear across the country.  He comes to Sandpoint frequently to get his hometown fix.

On one of those visits,  this former student and I were walking down North Second Street between Main and Cedar, which was dug up at the time.  

During our walk, he expressed a fervant desire that gates be erected at the entrances to the place where he grew up.  He sincerely feared at the time that a population influx would surely  cause the town to lose its charm and its friendly, laid-back appeal. 

To a certain extent, that had already happened in the eyes of long timers.  A walk downtown has changed dramatically from the days when we,  as children, teenagers and young adults, felt like downtown was simply an extension of our homes.  

We left our homes virtually every day to go to town to see our friends, to play at the beach or to drive around and wave at folks we'd known all our lives.  The familiarity we felt downtown in those days was comforting.

Now, on a trip to town,  especially in the summer time,  many of us feel like we're no different from the strangers walking the sidewalks, gazing at the scenes, peeking into display windows and oogling over what our community has to offer. 

Nobody knows our names, it seems, and we don't know the names of most whom we meet along the streets.  The "Hi's" and small talk along downtown sidewalks have faded.

This is a very real phenomenon for locals. I don't know if we'll ever get used to it. 

Nonetheless, we have weathered the storms of change, and we're still very proud to show off this place and to introduce visitors to the people and places that make the community tick.  

Bill and I have just completed one of those experiences with the visit from our Australians.  We loved selecting places we thought they ought to experience.  We also loved introducing them to friends, business owners, family, etc.  

Their take on the town---besides its obvious drop-dead gorgeous surroundings----the people; they're so friendly.  

Our guests spent about three days, mostly on their own, going to places of their choice, and they kept coming back to the Lovestead overcome with the reception they'd received from store clerks everywhere they shopped. 

Of course, the money they spent helped.  Still, they loved the enthusiastic friendliness.

I've seen the video of Sandpoint associated with the contest. It  depicts a small portion of this community's charm and beauty---some nice scenes, for sure.

The added plus for those of us who live here is that the true flavor of what makes Sandpoint a uniquely wonderful place will never appear in promotional videos.

Our community attributes run far beyond a top layer of skin. 

Unlike the perennial---let's get the house cleaned up cuz company's coming---no preparation is needed to show off Sandpoint at its best. And, apparently, the judges selected where they wanted to go during their stay here.

No worries.  Sandpoint is at its best every single day----'cept maybe during those long, gray days of winter and spring.  What makes the town something truly special, in spite of some gray days,  is its scenery and more importantly, its people.

So far, most folks have passed through those mythical gates to experience us and our natural surroundings just as we are.  And, if they've decided to stay a while, they've learned that we don't need to put on airs for our community to be something special. 

Now that we're officially beautiful, we simply need to continue appreciating the natural wonders of the area and to take good care of them.  

I'm sure we'll also continue to extend our everyday ordinary brand of goodwill, generosity, caring for others, zest for life, sense of community pride, down-home friendliness and honesty.  

That's precisely what has and what will maintain Sandpoint as America's most beautiful small town.  And, if we stay on the course we've followed here for generations, maybe we won't need to build those gates.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Go to the USA TODAY web page and read the entire article including the names of all of the other "bests" in various categories and runners up. Then read the comments. VERY interesting! One excellent question is what qualifies for a "small town". It is pointed out the Lafayette (best food) is 100,000 people. Many people point out the "issues" associated with being named the best - no longer so inviting after being "discovered". But we've been there before. Helen