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Sun., Nov. 23
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Community pride starts with us

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It’s easy to get so distracted by all the negativity in the world that we ignore the good things. We in Ogdensburg know that better than anyone. I don’t know what it is about our lot, but we love to complain about everything that is wrong with our community and hate to talk about the good things going on around us.

That’s why I think it’s important to call out good things when I see them.

The Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce has done right by the community by keeping up an initiative it started four years ago to encourage residents and businesses to improve their properties.

The main point of the program is to make our community more inviting for visitors in hopes that a good-looking city will encourage them to return. But it’s also important for those of us who are here every day. We are more affected by our environment than we realize.

When large swaths of the community are in disrepair, it doesn’t make us feel great about the place we live. We get stuck in a negative community mind set that leaves us believing that our community doesn’t deserve anything good. We are skeptical of any effort to improve the community as a result.

We, my friends, are a community suffering from low self-esteem. We have to dig ourselves out of that hole.

Initiatives like the chamber’s Gateways and Corridors program can help us take pride in the place we live, which, when you get right down to it, is a pretty great little corner of the world.

This time around, the chamber is encouraging residents and businesses along State, Main, Canton and Fine streets and New York Avenue to improve their properties. The improvements don’t have to be grand; a fresh coat of paint, some flowers and minor landscaping can go a long way to improving the appearance and general feel of a neighborhood.

Home and business owners who spruce up their properties get recognized every month, which helps them take even greater pride in their efforts.

Chamber officials will probably tell you they don’t feel they have gotten enough participation in the program over the years, but they’re being too modest. Even getting a handful of businesses and homes to improve their appearance goes a long way. Although not every home or business along Ford Street has participated in past efforts, the street is looking a lot better than it did a few years ago. The city is a better place as a result.

My hat is off to the chamber for keeping the program going and branching out to other parts of the city.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the other groups working to make a difference in the city’s appearance: the Pride and Beautification Commission, the Tree Commission and the Ogdensburg Garden Club.

They are all unsung heroes, working hard behind the scenes without getting the recognition they deserve. Every square inch of earth they till, every tree and flower they plant, every bush they trim and weed they pull, every basket hung from a lamp post counts. They deserve to be thanked more heartily and more often than they are.

The Ogdensburg Garden Club works hard to keep up the gardens in Library Park, the downtown Arterial and other visible places around the city. That work isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap. To help raise some money to pay for their efforts, the club is holding a “just for the birds” silent auction and sale Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Frederic Remington Art Museum building at 311 Washington St.

The club will auction 50 birdhouses of all shapes, sizes, colors and tastes. The few I have seen are magnificently crafted. A $10 ticket gets you a chance at a door prize as well. Plan to attend, and you might win a stunning quilt made by member Debbie Bruyere.

If we’re going to make our city a better place to live and work, we need to start by taking pride in our properties and supporting those who take the lead in improving our community. With their help and some initiative of our own, we can make our city one we can be proud to call home.

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