, Newburyport, MA


July 13, 2013

On NRA plan, ask yourself, 'what's in it for me?'

“What’s in it for me?”

Regarding the political topics that surround a community, it’s an interrogative that is rightfully raised. And Newburyport citizens share this right. What’s interesting to me, however, is that amid a recent flurry of opinion pieces here and online regarding the waterfront development plan being presented by the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA), which I ardently support, someone asked, “What’s in it for David Strand?”

I thought it amusing at first, but later sat back and asked myself, “What is in it for me?” Here I am running my mouth about this and what-is-it-in-it-for-me? I realize the question was delivered with intended rhetoric, but it compelled me to think about what is moving me spiritually towards action on this issue. I mulled, pondered, debated, even chewed upon the idea and a couple of weeks ago I figured out the answer: pride.

Yes, what is in it for me is pride, in myself, in my community and in the potential pride that one day soon, as I walk barefoot through dewy grass on a beautifully sculpted Waterfront Park with my daughter, Olivia, I can humbly hint that Daddy’s words contributed to a thoughtful conversation that moved things forward instead of in reverse.

But this still felt selfish, as the writer seemingly implied, and I had this inner voice telling me: “But why, Dave? Why? There has to be something deeper, you old softy.” And the deeper answer came to me yesterday as I returned from a morning jog on the beach. I paused and from the corner of Old Point Road, I looked at Newburyport.

The salt hay, being harvested by Colby Farm, and its sweet, musty, freshly-cut scent tapped my shoulder and whispered, “Breathe deeply and take a good look.” The harvest was near completion; the marsh had been cleared in a variety of crop circles, the hay bales stacked by the road, and a scenic spot in the middle seemed to call for a tripod. But yesterday I used only my eyes. In the distance on March’s Hill stood the water tower.

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