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Believe it or not, some of us want downtown Augusta to make it.

May 8, 2013

Downtown-Augusta-SignWow. You people know how to freak out, that’s for sure.

Because of the above statement, here’s the disclaimer. What happened to the victims of last Friday night’s beating was atrocious. I’m truly sorry for their pain, suffering, and the fear that will linger for the rest of their lives. Also, pertaining to the disgusting brawl that occurred downtown on the Friday April 27th, gunfire in what is assumed to be a safe place is scary as hell. Besides, no one in the video I saw seemed to be worried about police or anyone else catching them acting a fool. These things shouldn’t happen. They need fixing.

That being said, let’s not give up.

Listen. Augusta has its problems. All cities do. Remember a couple years back when First Friday was so sketchy it all but stopped? Large bar front windows were broken, fights erupted in the streets, and cars slowly drove up and down Broad Street, their propped open trunks full of beer and liquor. It felt like small-town anarchy. You know what? It got better.

A couple of weekends ago, there was so much going on in the Augusta area, it was hard to choose where to go. Everyone had an event planned. A TV station had a family festival on The Common. The Westobou Festival hosted The Blue Porch Revival at the Old Richmond Academy, which included a vodka tasting, a blues band and food from Kitchen 1451. The Spirit had The Chicken River Bluegrass Festival at the canal head gates. Goodwill’s Dragon Boats paddled Lake Olmstead. Artists young and old worked on collaborative art at Social Canvas at the Morris. Sacred Heart had its Annual Garden Festival. Every weekend during the spring and summer, Augusta offers a local Saturday Market, boasting produce from local farms, baked goods, and crafts. They even have a yoga class. On Sunday, Augusta’s Roller Derby team, the Soul City Sirens battled (and beat!) The Rome (GA) Rollergirls. I’m sure I’m missing dozens of things.

Don’t tell me there isn’t anything to do here. “Well that was LAST weekend, Jenny,” you say matter-of-factly, “it’s not like that EVERY weekend.”

Ok. This weekend, you’ve got Fort Gordon’s Marine Mud Challenge, The Augusta Canal’s Moonlight Music Cruise, Friends of the Library Book Sale, Augusta Players’ The King & I, Ft. Gordon Dinner Theatre, and much more.

No, not all of these events are downtown. They’re all related, though. We all live in Augusta. How many of you living in Co County tell people you live in Martinez? I’m not the bettin’ kind, but I’ll put money on the fact that most of you say “Augusta.”

Now, now. I’m not asking you to move downtown. I’m not asking you to come during a time you feel unsafe. Just as you wouldn’t ask me to move to the suburbs against my will (and it would be), I’m not going to make you go anywhere you’d rather not.

I’m asking this: don’t give up. Believe it or not, some people still believe in downtown. We like it. We walk around on sunny days when Augusta hosts the Ironman, Arts in the Heart, Westobou, or the bike races, and we’re proud. There is an energy in Augusta right now, and it’s palpable. It really, really, and pardon my francais, sucks when uneducated-up-to-no-good idiots try to ruin it for the rest of us. If you think living in Columbia County or South Augusta or North Augusta or Aiken precludes you from responsibility, please reconsider. Just as I enjoy a festival at the Evans Town Center Park, playing tennis at Riverview Park in NA, eating at Sconyers restaurant, or going to Phinizy swamp, y’all have enjoyed events in my county.

Regarding the violence, if you’re one to say “see, that’s why I will NEVER go downtown Augusta,” please stay quiet. We’d love to have you, but just because it’s not for you, please don’t badmouth. But remember: please don’t ever say there isn’t anything to do in this town. We’ve offered.

It’s not all going to change overnight. The commissioners must work together, with the Mayor, to make it better. The Sheriff must adjust to his job and find a balance. I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on giving up. I’m not from here, but I live here now. I don’t walk away easily.

Lately, when I go downtown for lunch or dinner with friends, finding a parking place takes a few minutes. Parking has always been an issue, and I’m sure those who work downtown find it to be a royal pain, but at least it means people are down there. If the restaurants causing the spaces to fill left downtown, I’m sure someone would complain about that, too. “We don’t have anywhere to eat, so we need a longer lunch break.”

We’re never going to make everyone happy. Things will happen. Visit any city in this country and tell me you’ll be safe everywhere. I’m waiting. Oh, you can’t. That’s right.

Do me this favor. If you’re not willing or able to help, please wait it out. Be quiet while you wait. Bad mouthing something you aren’t going to be a part of anyway is a waste of your energy. Make fun of me if you will, but I’m not willing to give up yet.

Worry about the victims. They need your prayers. Rather than complaining, figure out how you can make improvements. Don’t let the bad guys win.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2013 4:41 pm

    This is great! Exactly how I feel about Augusta.

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