Over the past few weeks, we have read about yet another example of the ways in which this community is taking its economic future into its own hands.
The Strand Theater has announced that more than 80 percent of the funding necessary to open up the historic building is now in place. They have asked the community to step up and to help complete the project now that completion is near, and theater, opera and live music could be performed at a wonderfully restored historic theater near you.
Soon, too, the Saranac River Walk will be complete. Soon, you will be able to walk all the way from the shore of Lake Champlain to the edge of Plattsburgh High School along a tumbling river, past gardens and rock walls, historical cemeteries and battle sites, by a new regional airport and through a university campus.
Perhaps some entrepreneur will start up an upstream kayak or canoe business that will allow adventuring visitors and residents alike to float the river on a beautiful summer afternoon. The possibilities of such a public/private partnership are exciting, as they often are when we can be both visionary and entrepreneurial.
Both these events are incredibly important for our community. I believe they will be transformational. However, they did not come about because of serendipity. Nor did they occur because a bureaucrat or an elected official threw a lot of money against a wall and hoped it stuck. They resulted from equal combinations of vision and hard work.
There is a joke among physicists. When Einstein was formulating his theory of relativity, he tried a few equations on the blackboard. First, he wrote down E = ma2 and that did not look right. Then he tried E = mb2, but finally settled on E = mc2, which we now know as the equation that unleashed the atomic bomb, the energy of the sun and nuclear power.
The parable reflects on how it often seems in the end that the path to a beautiful solution is a random and easy one, when it rarely is.
Both the Saranac River Walk and the Strand Theater restoration were a result of many people working together. And yet, few people reading this article likely followed and witnessed the difference a few thoughtful individuals can make.
There are ahead of us some real chances to get involved, though. Some thoughtful unelected community builders have been meeting regularly to figure out a way to bring together the many great ideas that are fomenting in our region.
The first opportunity to bring these ideas together is centered around the arts. At 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16, our local Mountain Lake PBS station will be hosting a call-in show to solicit your ideas on the arts and to give each of us avenues to become more involved in our own future.
In the weeks before this call-in television production, there was a presentation at Hawkins Hall on the PSU campus and another show sponsored by the station on the process.
This process is called Vision2Action. It is an offshoot of a set of talks called Vision 2040 a couple of years ago that asked what our community might look like if we did nothing, and then asked what we can do to provide the opportunities for our children that others created for us.
The Vision2Action series goes the next step. Every three months, another possibly exciting chapter of our ghost of Plattsburgh future will be rolled out, and your interest and involvement will be solicited and gauged.
The first gathering will be on the arts, followed this spring by talks and forums on recreation, then transportation, education and a visitor industry master plan. Each will give us all a chance to get involved.
And each effort will be better if you participate.
Please watch for these talks, and please participate in our mutual future. This is an example where we can be smaller or bigger than the sum of our parts. I prefer the latter, and I think you do too. Check out www.ncvision2action.org to see how you can get involved. To start, sign up to join us in the studio audience or call in on Thursday evening.
Colin Read is the chair of the Department of Economics and Finance at SUNY Plattsburgh. His seventh book, Great Minds in Finance — the Portfolio Theorists, has just been published. Continue the discussion at www.pressrepublican.com/0216_read.