June 15, 2006

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Concord Publisher's Note: Consideration
By†Dan Szczesny

The health of a community can be gauged by how considerate and giving its members are toward one another.

This past week gave us two illustrations of how this works. In one case, itís a story about an organization that is doing good work and is being rightfully rewarded. In the second case, itís about a thoughtless business and a city government that wonít enforce its own laws.

First the good news. More than 350 well -wishers with itchy checkbook fingers turned out to support The Friends Programís 2006 Annual Friends Finding Friends Auction last week at the Grappone Conference Center. They came to bid on nearly 60 handmade and painted clocks, tables and mirrors, all donated and created by local artists. And bid they did! By the end of the evening, nearly $70,000 was raised, including $2,500 going to one clock called Nursery Rhyme Time by artist Grace Currier.

There were many reasons for the success of this fundraiser, the first being that the Friends Program, a nonprofit social service agency that provides shelter for homeless families and mentoring to youth, is a hard-working well-connected organization that deserves the accolades it receives. But itís about more than just looking for a handout.

The Friends reached out into the community, pulling in the artists and creative community. They sought out local chefs, bakers and caterers, and, most importantly, they made the evening fun. Being part of that evening, and by association, being part of the Friends Program, was about being part of the community. It raised their profile, helped local galleries and artists and generally made it easier for folks to pitch in and make it a successful evening for the organization.

The second part of our story takes place on Main Street, where consideration and goodwill are unfortunately often hard to find.

Drive down Main Street now-a-days and youíll see a strange sight Ė a giant plastic moose sprawled on a car. Itís an ad, of course, for a local ice cream shop that I wonít mention. Itís for laughs of course, and it is amusing, but thereís something else going on here.

Itís tough to be a small, Main Street merchant in any town, but itís even tougher when parking is at a premium. How often has that been a complaint in Concord? Sometimes it seems like parking is the only issue in town.

Merchants fight a constant battle to pull visitors to their stores, to make sure parking violations are not too restrictive and to make downtown an otherwise easy-to-navigate experience. But when the merchants themselves begin using the spots directly in front of their stores, regardless of whether or not the merchant paid to bag the space, they canít expect much by way of foot traffic.

And Iím not sure whatís worse, the fact that a merchant is inconsiderate enough to hog (or moose) parking spaces or the fact that the city lets it happen. Iím pretty sure that any out-of-town shopper who leaves his vehicle there all day will face a hefty fine. That is, unless he happens to have a moose on his car.


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