by Kristen Jeffers

The future of our region lies in something we may have abandoned in the last few years — the fields. These new fields are more metaphorical than physical, but important nonetheless. The Piedmont Triad is planting the right seeds, believe it or not, for our future. However, there are a few more fields and crops to plant to ensure that we have the future we need.

One of the first fields we need to plant is right outside our door, in the grass/ concrete we already have: our neighborhoods. We need to cultivate and harvest places where we can walk or bike to all needed services. We need to eat better, so better to clear off a vacant home or two, or corner off a neighborhood park that’s already vast and plant some veggies and maybe even wheat and soy for bread and pretty much any meat we eventually want to create. What corners and spaces are left, we use to be active and move our bodies so we aren’t weighed down physically and mentally. And of course, we have plenty of homes, in forms that work for all types of people and life choices.

The second fields should be our matured downtowns and main streets. When we go downtown, it should feel like the Festival of Lights or Bookmarks Festival or Barbecue Festival all year long. LeBauer Park and the Winston Salem Arts District will help with that, with all of the places available for people of all ages and interests to have something to do. All types of music and dance scenes and professional and public services should be available. Transportation should radiate out of our depots and roll down not only the roads but the tracks on a regular basis.

Next, we should continue to encourage the garden of our youth to bloom. When our children go to school, not if, but when our children go to school, they should not be ridiculed for learning or force-fed into rigid boxes that check off arbitrary ideals or things that “colleges” and “employers” and even “families and children” and “politicians” want. We should learn the basics, then branch off into what works best, knowing that we are all left and right brained. The joint brain we have should allow us to do things that put that food from our garden on the table, but also enjoy exploration and laughter and making mistakes that work themselves out eventually. Of course, this also leads into giving adult people the opportunity and the skills they need to work, and allowing that work to provide for a family, no matter its size or shape.

And finally, we need a harvest of love.

Love from a distance those that we can’t see eye to eye with and love in tandem those that we can’t live without. No stringing along people who don’t make us better. No holding up certain people, places, companies and ideals as gods and trophies when all they are, are ideals and points in a greater map of time. No one company, ideal, bike lane, bus route, solar panel or skin color will hold us back, keep us from going forward or be the one thing that sustains our future. They will all work together to make this region and other regions, places where we can be a part of the harvest of the American Present.

Kristen Jeffers, a Greensboro native and resident, blogs at The Black Urbanist. !