I love my city. It took me in and gave me everything it has to offer. It is not perfect, by any means, but it has cultivated a close-knit community of artists, musicians, scientists, activists, public servants, and families. I may not know the name of every person walking down the street, but I know where I have seen them before.
I could have chosen to live in any one of our suburbs. Some of them may cost less. Some of them may be quieter. They may claim to be Rochester, but they are not. Fairport was not where Susan B. Anthony was arrested for illegally voting. Greece was not where Frederick Douglass published The North Star. Henrietta is not where the digital camera was invented, and then ignored.
From within the warehouse of the Genesee Brewery, the oldest in the state of New York, with the sweet smell of hops lingering in the air, Mayor Lovely Warren made her second State of the City address. She spoke of our city’s storied past, its struggle, through examples in Kodak and the brewery where we sat, and its growth and positive future.
While she took credit where she deserved it, she frequently praised other government leaders, prominent members of the community, and the residents of Rochester for their work in ushering in a new era for Rochester while respecting its past. Warren is a city mayor. She grew up in Rochester and talked of its struggles from experience, not from records. While her term as mayor started off with interesting events, only her harshest critics remain.
The only guarantee then is that doing nothing will solve nothing.
Mayor Warren’s proposals will not be popular for everyone. The residents of this city, and those of the neighboring towns, seem to have an attitude of “if it might not work, we shouldn’t try.” Rochester’s violent crime has been reduced, but not eliminated. Rochester remains the worst in the nation for child poverty. But efforts by the government, by the community, should not be stopped in a committee because there is no guarantee that they will work. The only guarantee then is that doing nothing will solve nothing.
A string of others, including former mayor Bob Duffy, Kris Sirchio, CEO of North American Breweries, and Pastor David Valle of River City Church, spoke before Mayor Warren. They each spoke of the progress we have made and of all that is left to do. It was a much smaller statement that spoke to me, however.
“Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to support this great city.”
Deputy Mayor Leonard E. Redon did not intend to make a profound statement when he thanked the audience for attending, but his words should be felt by any resident of the Flower City. We should not just accept his thanks, but accept it as a call to action to do what each of us can to make Rochester the city it should be.