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Time to bring back Positively Amherst

Community Editorial Panel with Leslie Childs

Looking for a life lesson? Well, here it is ….

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

Several things in recent weeks have been circling in my brain as topics for today’s column, but it wasn’t until I remembered this song that they all came together.

These lyrics, written in 1944 by Johnny Mercer with music by Harold Arlen, were featured in a WW II era film, “Here Come the Waves” when taking a positive stance was essential to the war effort. Just a few months later, the song spent 13 weeks on the Billboard Charts. Over the years, it has been recorded by just about every big star, right up to today with Paul McCartney and Barry Manilow recording covers in 2012. In fact, the song is now registered in the American Library of Congress as having “cultural, artistic and/or historical significant to American Society…”. Pretty heady praise, I’d say.

The secret to making a change for the better is not moaning about how bad things are but rather identifying good things, talking them up, and moving forward. So like Johnny Mercer, I am sharing some recent experiences that spotlight the POSITIVE right here at home.

There’s lots of negative talk out there: The American Situation, Brexit, tsunamis! Millennials and the young people are “tied to their devises and so self-absorbed that they never raise their eyes to those around them, so here’s some good news.

A young man, a brand new Sea Cadet, not yet 12 years old, approached me as I was struggling with a heavy load of bags and parcels and asked if he could help. His offer surprised me and I was delighted by his animated conversation as we struggled through several trips to deliver my load. What a pleasure to find a cheerful competent young person.

And he’s not alone. Just last week, a young woman, a total stranger, waited and held the door to the mall for me; later, I dropped a bunch of papers in the parking lot and three people stopped their day to chase them down; the Town of Amherst’s website and Facebook page now regularly posts Town Council and Committee Agendas, invites citizens to attend meetings, and publicizes local events. Feels like we are in the loop again. Thank you everyone!

The big news this week though has to do with the huge success of Amherst Area Heritage Trust’s (AAHT’s) first community event, “An Evening of Art and War: Mr Lismer Comes to Town” that took place at the James Layton Ralston Armoury this past Friday. Despite the snow storm, close to 90 people turned out to see the war art of Arthur Lismer, a founding member of Canadian’s internationally recognized Group of Seven, and hear about the man himself. Good food, a successful Silent Auction and lots of good conversation. Thank you to our guests and members. Your enthusiasm counts…which brings me to an important point. As a “Come From Away”, I had never experienced an event at the Armoury until now. What an amazing space, warm, inviting, and friendly, the kind of place that lends itself to socializing, networking, and just good vibes. It’s not just the size; it’s the atmosphere, the memories, the history that make the space work its wonders.

Everyone commented on how energized they felt and we came away with commitments for more efforts to Save the Armoury, build AAHT’s profile, and move forward with two new projects designed to accentuate the positives of Amherst’s unique and significant buildings to our future economy, cultural growth, and local pride.

Remember those POSITIVELY AMHERST licence plates? I‘ve seen a few lately. Maybe we could use some more? Why not talk to a Councillor about arranging for some?

Do you have any positives you’d like to share? You can message me leslie1248@gmail.com.

Leslie Childs is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel

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