I'M ALWAYS deeply grateful whenever anyone reads anything I write, whether they agree or disagree. The forum for the exchange of information and opinion is what’s important.
I’m also deeply reluctant to toot my own horn and call attention to previous things I’ve written. But I have to say I was struck by the enormous reaction to my column from last week, “Two Savannahs, further apart than ever.” A great example is Ms. McCoy’s insightful letter this issue.
The largely coincidental publishing in the same issue of Jessica Leigh Lebos’s column “Enveloped in the Beloved Community” seemed to provide the ideal companion piece: One a warning shot, the other a glimpse of a better future.
I wanted to clarify something, however. Some folks got the impression I’m against any development or economic progress at all, which certainly isn’t true.
The wonderful things going on in Savannah right now are beyond the wildest dreams of those of us who’ve seen the city doing much worse.
I and others would just like to see us avoid squandering that golden opportunity, through the greed of those who might profit from it and through the apathy of those who feel they never can or will.
You can be supportive of change while at the same time being cautious of it. Unfortunately with increased opportunity has also come increased divisiveness, precisely at the worst possible time.
As the kind of high-dollar, high stakes development hits Savannah that we’ve really never seen before, there’s an effort afoot to marginalize anyone who raises even mild concerns as a “hater.”
Surely the modern era’s most stupid word, “hater” says less about the so-called hater than about the accuser’s inability to articulate or defend their own position.
If you’re for responsible oversight of new development in the Historic District, you’re a hater.
If you’re for holding everyone accountable to the same standards and ordinances as everyone else, you’re a hater.
If you’re for preserving natural resources in the face of continued port development, you’re a hater.
Speaking of coincidental juxtapositions: Two key local organizations, doing great work in their own very different but very important fields, are holding important annual celebrations this week.
Step Up Savannah, an organization seeking to close the local achievement gap in workforce training, holds “Let’s Make It Work, Savannah,” its annual meeting and breakfast at Savannah Tech this Friday morning.
And at its Saturday night gala, Historic Savannah Foundation celebrates the 50th anniversary of “The Big Save” on Chatham Square, one of the first organized attempts at large-scale, systematic historic preservation in Savannah.
Historic Savannah Foundation, in particular, is the target of many “hater” accusations lately. This seems to happen whenever they have the gall to suggest that a new influx of moneyed development should adhere to reasonably formulated, commonly held and frequently stated local guidelines.
The irony is that probably no single entity in Savannah has done more than Historic Savannah Foundation to preserve and promote the engine that drives much of our current economic development, the gem of a downtown that draws visitors from all over the globe and is now providing so many juicy entrepreneurial opportunities for so many.
Both of these organizations, though representing very different strata of Savannah, are doing the kind of work that needs to be done to preserve and provide opportunity into the future, not just in the short term.
Many of the citizens urging fairness, reason, and restraint moving forward are also among those who have helped set the stage for much of the good fortune Savannah is experiencing right now.
You can’t hate on that.