The editorial below regards a measure which will be on the Mecklenburg County ballot on Nov. 5, presenting voters a “FOR” or “AGAINST” choice for an additional quarter-cent sales tax on goods and services purchased in Mecklenburg County earmarked to fund arts and culture initiatives, county parks and greenways and public teacher supplements. Her first article on this subject is here.
You’ve certainly heard about it by now; the referendum that promises to have great impact on the state of the arts, parks and education in Mecklenburg County. Yes, it’s the same referendum that’s causing great debates in various breweries, recreation centers, parking lots and every hall and distinguished atrium found Uptown.
The buzz is percolating and present in neighborly “mom and pop” establishments and a part of “small talk” amongst uniformed c-suite executives. Yes, the whole city seems to be engaged and chatty about this upcoming opportunity.
One thing for sure, there is ample space for you to have the conversation surrounding this issue as, on any given day, someone somewhere is offering the platform. Legit, I’m aware of four separate discussions that are taking place this week. So, the question is, do you vote “FOR! Mecklenburg” or don’t you?
As stated in my previous article, FOR! ONE, I spilled the beans and boldly announced my support FOR! Mecklenburg (the proposed referendum). Art (as well as parks and education) has real impact on real lives and shouldn’t be taken lightly or viewed as a hobby. I also confessed that even I — an artist who presents with “less than favorable” attributes to many (and being forced to maneuver their collective impact on my social/economic mobility) can afford twenty-five cents (for every $100) that’s in question. With that, I’m certain most individuals who call Charlotte home and who have “real jobs,” can do the same.
The city is simply in need of this proposal to pass.
Here’s the thing, a lot of the social ills—if not all—are because we don’t “see” each other anymore. Charlotte is 50 out of 50 because we overlook, ignore and refuse to recognize the humanity evident in us all. We operate in our comfortable silos and refuse to step over, into the other side. We limit our interactions with individuals and communities who don’t have, don’t look like they have or don’t look like us.
Do we care anymore? We, hurriedly, drive/walk past the individual on the corner asking for a QUARTER, so that we can make it to “insert favorite coffee shop here,” to leave the barista a healthy tip in order to make it to places of employment, efficiently caffeined-up. (Yes, we’d rather complain about how we need to address housing and the homeless population instead of actually helping. I mean, we’re having this conversation because a QUARTER is a big deal, right?)
We consume ourselves with conversations surrounding the need for more transportation options because those that are getting pushed out of their generational homes, into the perimeters of Charlotte, are going to need to traverse the city somehow, right? Yeah, okay, you can miss me with all the “fluff” and distractions. The Queen City is and will always operate as two—the haves and the have nots—until we level set and get back to truly ‘seeing’ each other, caring for each other, enjoying each other’s company.
Colorful, energetic moments where color and status don’t matter …
I affirm that via arts and related experiences, boundaries that typically divide and ostracize become blurred and erased. And, it’s in those environments where we truly operate and function simply as human beings—sans all the limiting labels. Whether it’s in the stroke of the brushes, the unified one-two step and/or the glaring vocals of an entire crowd singing a chorus, we’re in it together and, in that moment, that’s all that matters.
It’s in those colorful, energetic moments where color and status don’t matter. And, while I vehemently oppose anyone suggesting that art and creating is child’s play, I welcome everyone to remember being a child and the joy you felt when you and your diverse group of kindergarten pals painted, colored, danced, blurted out a tune, etc.
I humbly attest that we can get back to that feeling — to that sense of community — via the arts. It’s a way to bring various groups of people together, to enjoy a shared experience and “color” outside of their comfortable boundaries. I’m convinced that through the arts, individual lives, communities and entire cities can be changed FOR! the better.
If you have questions or would like to talk about this, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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