The Advantages of a Better Community: Clean and Aesthetically Pleasing

Advantages Explored!

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, On Self-Reliance

I’ve always found comfort in those words.  Hasn’t each of us realized that we probably have more in common with each other than we first thought? I’m not saying that our likes and tastes are all the same (that would be boring), but that our basic hopes and desires look – in the end – very similar.  

Over the next few months, I want to explore in more detail the Advantages of a Better Community, one at a time, in no specific order. These are, to me, the “common denominators” of good community. In some ways, they are reflective of the foundations that already exist here in Coraopolis; in other ways, they are aspirational. Some will resonate with you more than others, but I think you’ll agree they all are advantages we seek. They are the advantages I am working for each day.   I look forward to your own thoughtful comments!


The Advantages of a Better Community: #10 – Clean and Aesthetically Pleasing

I’m the kind of person who will tell you if you have food in your teeth.

Why? Because when I have food in MY teeth, I want someone to tell me.  So, let me say this: Coraopolis, you have some food in your teeth.  Not as much as before, but still, go check it out in the mirror.

I’m hearing a lot about how people can “see and feel” that things are changing in Coraopolis. I think that is reflective of two specific changes. First, that we have some new businesses in, and coming in.  And second, because our storefronts in town are simply starting to look better.  Isn’t amazing what a fresh coat of paint and some Windex can do?

I grew up in McKeesport, a mid-sized mill town that was (in my years) generally depressed and often dingy.  I remember doing a lot of walking around as a kid, through a variety of neighborhoods, and always noticing the places that stood out because they seemed to take a little more care than everyone else with their homes and yards.  A friend once told me that if you want to send a message about yourself you should dress “a half a level better” than the people around you. That is to say don’t go crazy with looking TOO much better than everyone else, but do the right things right … effective, clean, and just-enough-different to make people notice.

Isn’t the same idea true for our homes and businesses and public spaces? I’ll bet if you and I sat down over a beer or a cup of coffee (at one of our new, eye-catching establishments) and made a list of those homes and businesses in Coraopolis that drive us crazy because of their appearance, we would come up with the same list.  Now, I don’t know why those places look the way they do – perhaps there is a sad backstory that you and I don’t know about. But that said, I DO know that a can of paint and a bottle of Windex can go a long way.

Let’s start here: what does YOUR place look like? Right? Before I can change the world I have to look at the man in the mirror and ask HIM to change first.  Only then can I walk next door and ask if I can help someone else paint.

A town like ours can, and will, see façade and structural improvements. We can access opportunities to collectively and intentionally make Coraopolis more beautiful.  We can, in a sense, tell each other that we have something stuck in our teeth, and pick it out.

Thank you to the homes and businesses that have recently raised the bar in Coraopolis.  Let’s keep the momentum going.  This week’s question is NOT about pointing to others, but about ourselves.  What can YOU do different, and what will YOU commit yourself to improving your own space?   (Me, I’m going to clean out the garage and get the dead trees removed before July 1 … no small feat!)

Best ideas welcome!

Shawn P. Reed
Democrat Candidate for Mayor