What was the lesson of the demise of our bookstore in Shorewood?
There is no question that if we really wanted to save the bookstore we would have done.
I would suggest that most villagers didn't know that it was closing down. They might notice that it is closed next time they're in the area.
Most of those that lamented the bookstore's closing down accepted that reality or wanted someone else to take action. They were not even prepared to give lip service to its support.
The Village Hall obviously didn't think that it was important enough to take action. Perhaps they have other plans in mind so that its closing was moving us in that direction.
It appears then that neither the community nor Village Hall understands the importance of such a socially important private enterprise. Our professionals are caught up in studying trends rather than studying the uniqueness of certain elements of our community.
One of the things that we haven't learned is that New York coffee shops and New York assisted living projects for the elderly are not going to provide us with any uniqueness. We are being guided in the direction of doing what everyone else does.
I've spent a lot of time in New York and perhaps more time in London and I've always enjoyed the uniqueness of these two great cities. I wouldn't want to import any of those elements to Milwaukee nor to Shorewood. There are certain principles that are applied there that could bring us our uniqueness, but not their very elements.
What I've learned from this recent experience is that most citizens of Shorewood are not attuned to what we have that is unique. In order to enhance and preserve what is unique, we must become conscious of the fact that cities and communities are attractive not because of their sameness but becuase of their uniqueness.
For example, a good artist could have helped us to provide a unique atmosphere to our business district. If we didn't have all the money that TIF provided, we may not have sought out how others did it, especially as related to costs, but instead we might have found our own unique way.
I believe that one of the main lessons to be learned from the demise of our bookstore is that we have failed to understand the importance of uniqueness. Uniqueness also comes with proper arrangement and the building onto existing unique elements.
We are far from understanding the unique opportunities that our river and that our Lake present us. We don't know how to connect to these two natural features yet. But if we accept them as unique assets of our community, then we may not squander away their value while we find how to integrate them into our community.
We should instead seek to include their uniqueness into our designs of our community. But are we uniquely and sufficiently interested even to ask or to seek out what these opportunities are?