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Street Talk

Arts Council, Main Street Association Will Launch Joint Membership Drive 

Your Water Valley Main Street Association and  Water Valley Arts Council are starting a joint membership effort. Starting is perhaps not the right word, for the WVMSA and the WVAC have been joined at the hip, so-to-say and share many members. In theory both groups are semi-separate entities, but share a common philosophy about making the Valley a great place to live. 

At first it might seem different missions, Main Street’s economic downtown development thought historic preservation and the Arts Council’s development of a creative atmosphere for all arts in the Valley. But the big picture is the same.

So when you’re asked either by mail or personally to renew or join for the first time, please take a moment to consider the past effort and changes, the present activity and energy, and the future direction of this town. We are hopefully re-building and creating a better town for everybody. 

That’s the real goal of both groups. Main Street has been active for nine and half years, the Arts Council for eight. In that time period there has been a little over eight million private dollars invested in downtown, creating just shy of 100 new jobs. The art council has put Water Valley on the creative map through events, advocacy, education, and sheer energy. If you’ve been a constant member from the beginning for either or both or would like to join now, we’re getting in touch.

Over the holidays I got out of town and went to another small town in southwest corner of Germany. That is the Black Forest region, a mountain chain near the Rhine and right across that river from the Alsace region in France. I’ve been going to this town for 32 years, and I’ve lost count, but somewhere around 40 trips. 

The town’s name is Waldkirch (means forest church) and the neighborhood I hang out in on the south edge of town is called Batzenhausle (means small coin little house). And just across fields by less than a mile is another small town called Buchholz (book wood). Across a small ridge that is covered in vineyards, is a village called Sexau. I’ll leave that translation to your imagination.

After all this time I can understand what folks are telling me and respond in an accented and syntax challenged way. I read the local weekly paper and there is some bald guy in it who writes a column. I’m not suggesting this German area is like Yalobusha on the Rhine, but there is a larger university town about 20 minutes away, Freiburg im Breisgau. There are some rough similarities between here and there, and I suppose all small towns have a certain way of living and looking at things.

Here are the constants and changes I’ve noticed over three plus decades. Education always seems to be priority, teachers there are paid significantly better. That seems to always have been the case and seems to have paid off in long-term benefits. One result is there is a local high tech industry that has gone global. SICK AG (that’s the name, no fooling) makes industrial optical products; the company is based in this little town. Renewable energy is coming on strong and I mean wind energy on the mountain passes and solar power on the house roofs. If they’re getting solid solar power at 50 degrees north latitude (equal to up in Canada) we sure could have beaucoup at 34 degrees north. 

Downtown local foods markets were always a part of the town and seem to have steadily grown. The local food movement works much closer with local growers than here, growing a diverse range of seasonal crops, that despite a much shorter growing season. 

In transportation, far more folks walk (things are closer, though), or use bikes, and the local passenger train runs up and down the valley all day. There’s plenty of cars, the Germans love them like we do, just they drive less and the cars are smaller. Everything gets recycled and separated, many folks compost if they have a yard and a result is the actual garbage is pretty small. 

I’m not saying we should be like small town Germans, in fact they could learn a few things from us. It is more noticing how folks solve similar situations that is interesting and one can always learn and adapt from another’s example. That’s why it is always good to see what others are doing, understand their reasoning, and just maybe re-invent that for our own use. 

Makes the world friendlier and the Valley a better place.

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