Crossroads

The next year or two will the years to watch in Berlin. The prison will finish construction, Clean Power will start building, Laidlaw will apply for EFSEC review, Fraser will reach an agreement with someone to supply cheap energy, Jericho Mountain State Park will have hold its first ATV festival and the blue line will finally run through town. I can’t imagine a better time to be reporting there.

I’ve recently had both pro- and anti-Laidlaw people mad at me for the way I approached their subject. My wife was accosted yesterday by a man who heard her last name and didn’t like an article I’d written. Someone else told me they were looking to expand their business in the area and really appreciated my reporting on other successes around the city. I feel like I’m pissing enough people off that residents must be reading the paper. They care enough to comment; that makes me feel successful.

No one I know wants Berlin to fail. People fight vehemently for their vision of the city, but they all have the same goal. Like Democrats and Republicans in Washington, D.C., factions in Berlin are battling each other, thinking the other side is wrong and evil, but both with a passion for their city, all because they want to see the city thrive.
It’s important to allow diverging opinions and contradicting viewpoints to be heard, otherwise there isn’t honest debate. But in many ways opinions are moot, because we are single actors, in many ways just bystanders. I interview people each week opening and running businesses in Berlin who don’t have time to attend city council meetings, chamber of commerce meetings or school board meetings. They are fighting to bring more life and success to the city in other ways; ways that include the words open for business. They are the wave that will push the city into the future.
I look at Berlin and I am hopeful. Regardless of what I or others think are the big issues of the day, there are people who don’t care about what is said in the paper or on the Internet. They are loyal to the city, and they will fight for it to the end.

I’ve been thinking about this moment in Berlin’s history, which, as Mr. Charest has said, is when the city must reach maturity. The story of Berlin is a smaller version of the story of the United States: once a manufacturing superpower, it hasn’t built anything in years. Honestly, I have to believe Berlin can remake itself, because both it and our country will have to to survive.
I want to tell that story, and not just on LPJ or in the Berlin Reporter. I’ve been thinking about doing a documentary on the city, telling the story of the entrepreneurial seekers who see more in Berin than just its past. This crossroads is truly exciting, and it could be a parable for the nation. The “big issues” as but a backdrop for the passion residents have maintained through countless setbacks. The irrepressible spirit of the city amazes me, and I think it is a story worth telling. The next year, I hope, will paint a clear portrait of what a community can do for itself, defining its future and without neglecting its past.

May you live in interesting times — an apt description for the residents of Berlin. It is also true around the country. Berlin can be the anecdote for the nation. I want to be there to see it, and to tell it.

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