Monday, January 25, 2016

Sometimes a loss turns into a win

Whether it’s sports or civic life, sometimes the best result can come from a loss. While the Patriots AFC championship loss is still too fresh to process, the Red Sox went from worst to first in 2013 and gave fans an unexpected thrill in a year where expectations were low. We learned earlier this month that GE selected Boston for its new corporate headquarters, but GE’s spokesperson gave Rhode Island high praise for our pitch and our offerings so we will be considered for future GE sites and jobs. We didn’t win, but losing out to Boston (instead of Atlanta) — and being in contention when we’ve never been competitive before — makes the loss much easier to take and offers time to improve our pitch.

A near-loss has recently allowed for a time of reflection in the East Bay. After the 4th of July Committee voted to shorten the parade route and the news initially broke, my heart was broken for the families whose traditions and celebrations were in jeopardy. I was also feeling badly for the dedicated volunteers who were taking the heat for making what they clearly believed to be the best decision for all involved. While the change in plans was reconsidered and a victory was notched for the parade preservationists, the more important result is that we were able to have a community-wide conversation about what the parade means to each of us.

It’s important to note that the vast majority of us enjoy the festivities without contributing much. The parade — and all the events and concerts that accompany the 4th — couldn’t and wouldn’t happen without the incredibly hard work of the 4th of July Committee. The amount of time they put into making the celebration happen is almost unimaginable to most of us and they do it without recognition or pay. I will admit that I never thought about the tremendous amount of pressure they bear to meet expectations about the number and quantity of bands that march. One thing I have heard over and over: we love the fancy marching bands from far away, but if they can’t make it, that’s okay too. If the “Battle of the Bands” has to be in Cranston, let’s have a showcase of local high school bands in its place. Instead of paying one of the “big time” bands to come from the Midwest, maybe we can fund a trip to the parade for a fantastic high school band that would be honored to participate in our fantastic tradition.

The parade is about family, friends, traditions and yes, Bristol. If the committee believes that the parade needs to be shortened, maybe it’s not the route that gets cut, but some of the content. One thought: no offense to Providence, but I have never understood why it is so well represented in the Bristol parade. The mayor’s SUV can be seen in downtown Providence any day and I wonder if it is special enough for a spot in the Bristol parade. I hope that what started out as painful discussion can turn into something we all can have a productive and cooperative voice in every year.

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