Why is it that once some of us hit a certain age we forget that we also were once “those damn kids.” Yet, some of my generation, and the generation above me, who attended last night’s Bangor City Council Workshop on noise concerns from Waterfront Concerts seem to not remember when we were the ones who enjoyed music that drove our parents over the edge. Remember, it was the music that had surely been conceived of by Satan and was certain to cause the downfall of civilization as they knew it. Yet somehow, we all survived, all seem to be living productive lives. It was no coincidence that those older folks who sighted the bands they listen to, in order to show their “coolness,” all mentioned bands whose members are all old enough to collect social security themselves!
Not that great music ever goes out of style, it doesn’t, but we’ve got to make room for new music, new ideas and a new generation of Bangor City Leaders. That’s how a healthy city grows.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had my own concerns about things going on in the city. I’ve had my own concerns about the crime and the drug use I witness out the window of my own apartment. I’ve brought those concerns to the city and I have to say that every single time, the city coucilors have listened and have done their very best to help. I am proud of my city councilors for that, all of them!
Downtown Bangor used to be very quiet. Do you remember? You could walk through downtown any night of the week. There were plenty of parking spots. There were no panhandlers. There were very few disturbances because nothing was going on. There were far fewer businesses and the ones that were there all closed precisely at 5 pm. There was almost no crime, but there was almost no life either.
The problems the city is experiencing are just part of its growth. They are normal things that go along with the successes we’ve recently seen. With proper planning, we can overcome them, we can find solutions that work for most of us!
The problems we are facing are not caused by the concerts on the waterfront. Our problems are much deeper than that. They are caused by unemployment and under-employment. They are caused by problems with our education system and lack of affordable post-secondary education for everyone. They are caused by cuts to mental health services and lack of access to affordable healthcare. They are caused by substance abuse and sometimes they are even caused by the very things put in place to help with those issues, such as the methadone clinics, but that is a discussion for another day. All these issues will continue to exist whether or not one more concert ever plays on the Bangor Waterfront.
The problems downtown are not caused by the music. Music heals and music has healed this city. Yes, even the loud angry music has its place, has its ability to heal and touch in the way that all music does. You don’t have to understand it, you don’t have to like it, but you have to respect it as another genre, another art form, and you have to allow it to exist alongside all the others.
And maybe if you have health issues, if extreme noise is something you can’t tolerate, well maybe living in the middle of the city is not for you. Maybe a nice quiet home in the country would be more appropriate.
Do I like all the music on the waterfront, no I don’t. Do I complain about it, never! It’s a few hours out of my week, a few nights out of my summer and its worth it. Its worth it for all that it has brought our city.
The last decade has brought us the American Folk Festival, Kahbang, Waterfront Concerts and so much more. It has brought us new successful businesses downtown and a thriving downtown community. It has brought us countless visitors and made us new friends from all over the globe. It has brought us pride! It has brought us hope. It has brought the children we raised here hope that this community is some place they might really want to live in afterall, that its someplace they might want to raise their own families some day. Isn’t that why we all worked so hard, why we fought to change this city, to help it grow? I don’t know about you but I did it for my children, for the next generation of Bangor citizens.
I didn’t get a chance to speak last night, but my 28-year-old son did and that, for me, was more appropriate. However, he was one of only about a half-dozen people under 35 who attended. Only two his age spoke. I wish more of his peers had attended, had made their voices heard. Bangor has some incredible young people in it. We have several young, dedicated, and very impressive politicians. We also have some amazing entrepreneurs, among those are the folks who work for Kahbang and Waterfront Concerts. Its at the hands of these young people that this city has grown and prospered. I look forward to the great things they are going to do in the future!
These are young people who aren’t leaving Maine for greater opportunity elsewhere, but are staying here creating their own opportunities, and creating opportunities for the rest of us at the same time. We either need to help and support them, or get out of their way! They are working hard and building the community of their dreams. Its time us older folks passed the torch. Its time we let them build the community of the future, because after all, its their future.