Big city, small town

The April NaBloPoMo theme is “Grow.” Fitting for Spring. Fitting for Easter. Fitting all the way around.

Ironically, I’ve lately been pondering the fact that the two places I call home have the exact opposite in “growing pains.” One just refuses to grow. The other is growing way too fast.

I fear for my hometown in Texas. It’s just slowly dying. Industry that was there closed or left. (There is still a little industry happening there, but its no where near enough to allow the town to grow.) I suppose its to make up the lost revenue that property taxes are ridiculous. When my parents tell me what they pay for utilities, it boggles my mind. It’s no wonder people aren’t moving in and they are instead moving away.

Battle of the Bell

My hometown has a great school with a definite focus and support on sports. The band was a state-known band, and it could be again if the right changes are made. I am most definitely proud to be a Cameron Yoeman.

My hometown, though, it just needs to be open to growth. It needs more than Mexican food and hamburgers. It needs to find a positive attitude and embrace anyone wishing to open something new. A friend recently (like in the last week) opened a music store in the town square. I have zero doubt some people rolled their eyes and said, “Well there’s no place for that HERE.”  And I challenge them to instead say, “Excellent! It’s the only music store in a 60 mile radius! Let’s back this and get people from surrounding towns to come HERE to shop!”

My hometown doesn’t need to be a bustling metropolis. I would frown at that happening myself! But I wish I would go back and say, “Wow when did that open!” instead of, “Oh man, when did they close and tear that building down?” I have a real fear that in years to come my hometown will be essentially a footnote in a history book.

Milam County Courthouse

But speaking of history, my beloved adopted home of Nashville, TN breaks my heart just as much as my hometown does, but for the exact opposite reason.

When I moved to Music City in 2006, I fell madly in love with history in general. The city oozed a pride in its past that is impossible to find in any metro city. I found myself digging into the past in the public library. (I especially found myself in a love affair with Printer’s Alley in the heart of Nashville.) It was a growing city on the path of progress and growth, but it still had many old buildings oozed simple Southern Charm.

CMA Fest 2010

However, in the last five years, I’ve seen beautiful old buildings torn down and bright, shiny, new buildings of steel and glass go up in its place. Southern charm came to be replaced with metro sleek. And no matter how much people scream and yell that they want the progress to slow down just a little bit, developers from California, Florida, New York, Chicago, Atlanta care none. They snatch up buildings, kick out the tennants (some that were successful businesses for 20 years!) and put up something new. Apartments and condos mostly. Locals can no longer afford to enjoy the city they live in… the city they nurtured into the amazing place it came to be. Or that it was.

Don’t get me wrong. Nashville NEEDS to grow. Much like my hometown, you have to ebb and flow and grow. Heck, I’m myself working to open something new in Nashville! I’d be a total hypocrite if I throw a fit about new things and then open something new myself. I am NOT saying we can’t grow. We HAVE to grow.

Music City Center

But not at the expense of our history. NOT at the expense of losing the charm and small-town-feel Nashville always boasted while being a city. We can’t become so expensive that the blue collar workers who listen to country radio can’t afford to come visit us. Come see the Ryman. Come drive down the Natchez. Come tour the Country Music Hall of Fame and take in an Opry show.

I fear we will soon be “Atlanta North” and I sometimes wonder if I’ll even care to be here when that happens… and in the same breath, if my hometown will even still exist then, too.

Grow. You have to grow lest you whither up and die. But don’t grow faster that your roots can hold you.

38/47: Downtown lights