Posted on Sunday, October 30 2005 by Heather Brandon
In this week’s Valley Advocate, writer Dan Oppenheimer, who grew up in Springfield, has an opinion piece called “Field of Dreams,” where he encourages an outlook on Springfield akin to popping the bubble of illusion and hyped-up, super-optimistic over-reality. Instead, he writes, we might consider an outlook appropriate for a city “that was, even at the best of times, a proudly modest place.” He summarizes Springfield’s assets:
Springfield has a lot going for it. Not the Basketball Hall of Fame or proximity to the Yankee Candle Company, but a great parks system, a great library system, beautiful museums, a lot of distinctive neighborhoods full of small businesses of character and charm, and about 150,000 people of varying degrees of character and charm, most of whom would like to live in peace and prosperity with their neighbors.
And its challenges:
Springfield also has a high rate of HIV infection, a beaten-down school system, a lot of crime, a lot of debt, a legacy of political corruption, a serious inferiority complex, and a racial diversity that it has only just begun to try to half-understand (incumbent mayor Charles Ryan and Ashe managed to go an entire debate barely mentioning the city’s growing Hispanic population). That’s the inspiring and daunting reality, and only a perception that aligns with it, at least roughly, can ever hope to exert some positive autonomy over it.