I've always felt that passion can take you a long way. With it - anything seems possible. Without out - everything seems pointless. Passion - the kind that inspires you and gives you hope and puts a bounce in your step and makes you think, even for just a few hours, that the place you call home can be something really, really special some day - was on full display in Downtown Salisbury on Saturday.
And it's all thanks to the 52 students from the University of Maryland School of Architecture and Design. 52 students - and 6 or 7 of their professors - who boarded a bus in College Park Saturday morning at 7 a.m., and brought their creativity, ideas, intellect, expertise and enthusiasm to the old Salisbury Fire Headquarters building. They're all part of Envision Salisbury - a project that might, just might - provide one of the key missing links to the decades long question: "What can we do to make Downtown Salisbury work again?"
The short version of Envision Salisbury is this: seems our City Council President Jake Day is a UM alum - who majored in....Architecture. And, it seems the UM School of Architecture and Design was looking to take on a project - one that would allow its students to jump head first into helping a Maryland city with a re-design of its downtown area. ("Hello.. Need? Please allow me to introduce you to my good friend..Opportunity!") The point is - Jake Day was still in touch with his professor/mentors at UM - and it was a logical fit.
On Saturday, the college students who are spending this entire semester working on our Downtown - and what it could be - came here to meet, listen to, and walk the streets with - any member of the community who wanted to brave the mid-winter, low 30's temperatures and hang out with them. For 5 hours or so, it was interactive education at its finest. A few of the students had made the trek to Salisbury already. Yesterday, though - they all came. It was simply astounding to sense all the time, energy, and intellect they'd already put into this project. Yet, as one student shared with me, they've really only just begun.
The fun part of all of this? We all can participate. How? Well, for starters - go find the project online. It's on Facebook and Twitter. The students want to hear our feedback, our thoughts. If you didn't make it to the presentation Saturday, so what? Your voice, your ideas, your opinions on what our downtown footprint should/could look like - are vitally important to the project.
On Saturday, you could overhear talk about the North Prong of the Wicomico River; of up-lighting the beautiful and historic downtown Courthouse building; of UM students polling Salisbury University students to get their input; of whether the Downtown Plaza should become a "regular" paved road again, as it used to be; of how to improve traffic flow in and around Mill Street and Carroll Streets; of the amazing architecture in our existing downtown buildings; of the potential for a new development on the Library parking lot; and so much more.
No one, least of all me, is suggesting that Saturday marked a turning point - or a new beginning - or concrete proof that what so many of us want to happen is, in fact, finally happening. But what Saturday meant more than anything is this: Discussion in a positive, coordinated, passionate way about....anything - sure feels good. One Salisbury thinks so anyway. Good luck Envision Salisbury - and THANK YOU for caring!!!