Our beloved Rutland is a "Comeback Community"!
In light of this, "Ridiculous Optimism for Rutland" is simply a cheerful slogan that shows support for Rutland's comeback.
*Many, many people are optimistically working hard to make Rutland a better place to live, work and play. Find out what efforts are being made (and how you can help!) at the Project Vision website.
One way to cheer on our town is to wear the t-shirts you see on this page!
ONLY $20 to show your optimism for Rutland
* There is a $1 processing fee for all credit card orders
These are premium quality 50/50 blend t-shirts - no worries about shrinkage :D
*You can purchase these designs at these fine Rutland locations:
--> Vibe Portrait Art, 23 Washington Street (The only location accepting credit cards)
--> Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, 50 Merchants Row
--> Vermont Truffle, 37 Center Street
--> Fruition Fineries, 56 Merchants Row
*Net Proceeds will be donated to these Rutland charities:
June: First Step Pregnancy Center
July: Teen Challenge Addiction Recovery
September: The Mentor Connector
**due to the 'grass roots' nature of this campaign, your purchase price is not tax deductible.
Concept by Vibe Photographer Chris Booth
Shout out to Colleen Wilcox of Wander on Words for the fabulous t-shirt designs
Ridiculous Optimism for Rutland
The Rutland Herald published this article, but had to edit it for space. This is the full text:
I just got back from the city of Lusaka in Zambia, Africa. It’s a zany, backwards, run-down-yet-lovable and interesting place. But it’s just so run down. It seems almost everything there is broken and patched-up. The cars. The roads. The roadside shops. The houses. The food supply. The water. The very, very large spiders. And it feels like no one is doing much of anything to make things any better.
Which brings me to Rutland.
My experience in the city of Lusaka stands in marked contrast to Rutland, our beloved city. Since Rutland’s revival efforts began several years ago, there has been solid, measurable progress in a good direction. People here are actively addressing our specific problems. So much so that I, a natural-born ‘realist,’ am feeling what I can only describe as a kind of stirring inside. I’ve been thinking about this for some time now, and have finally been able to give it a name: Ridiculous Optimism. I am feeling ridiculously optimistic about Rutland’s future.
Optimism can be very powerful. And the power of ridiculous optimism for Rutland is this: when more and more people get in on the vision for a better future for our town, more people are now working to make the vision a reality. “Many hands make light work.” The list of things to do to make Rutland rebound is long, certainly. And imagine if only one person was tasked with doing ALL of that work…they’d be overwhelmed and completely discouraged and likely would slip into pessimism about it ever getting done. Now imagine that same person ‘infecting’ others with a profound optimism that says, “yes! We can do this…come along for the ride!” As others join in, the workload for any one person shrinks and progress begins to be made.
And here’s a cool thing: this has already happened in Rutland. We’re well past the point of one or two people wishing for a brighter future and trying to convince a few others to join them. We’re now at the point where there are whole teams of Rutland-lovers going at it full steam:
*Rutland City Police Department
*Chamber of Commerce (#RealRutland)
*Downtown Rutland Partnership
*REDC (Rutland Economic Development Corporation)
*Mayor David Allaire & Aldermen
*Rutland Redevelopment Authority
*RYP (Rutland Young Professionals)
*Rutland Community Cupboard
*The New Story Center
*Rutland Region Workforce Investment Board
*The many other collaborators throughout Rutland County’s 27 towns
*Many other organizations doing good work – Rutland Recreation Department, Dismas House, Teen Challenge, Care Net Pregnancy Center, March of Dimes, Wonderfeet, The United Way, The Dream Center, area churches…and the list goes on and on…I’m sure many more could be added to the list.
And just look at some of the progress that’s been made recently:
*Crime is on a DOWNWARDS trend – recent years have seen a 50% reduction in burglaries (wow)
*People with addiction issues are more willing to seek help
*Police are assisting people with addiction issues to get help (not just arresting them)
*RRMC is assigning caseworkers to repeat addicts for better care and eventual freedom from the bondage of addiction
*NeighborWorks purchased 11 blighted properties…razed four and rehabbed seven for resale
*New Baxter Street Park on one of the razed lots
*REDC is helping to invigorate Rutland Region’s businesses and work force *Vibrant Chamber of Commerce’s #Realrutland campaign – stirring interest in people to make Rutland their home
*Rutland Young Professionals - a rising generation that is taking ownership of issues and working for solutions
*Center Street Marketplace (previously the Center Street Alley) will open in August!
*White’s Pool Renovation – complete!
*Act 250 Policy Committee working with Legislators to smooth the permitting process for businesses
*GMP building and giving away a high efficiency ‘Innovation Home’
*Downtown storefronts now at over 86% occupancy
*6 new downtown businesses in the last 6 months
*Gift of Life Marathon blood drive a continued success
*A recent Northwest neighborhood survey, called The 2016 Northwest Community Impact Measurement, said this about recent forward momentum: “In 2016, 24% more (82%) were very or somewhat satisfied with ‘living in this community’ than in 2013.”
*The same survey noted, “Families with children saw remarked improvement in responses between 2013 and 2016: 20% more were satisfied or very satisfied with their neighborhood in 2016. In 2016 17% more (66%) would definitely recommend their neighborhood as a good place to live. These increases in positive responses show that the Northwest Rutland is becoming a neighborhood of choice and pride.”
Let me repeat that last one: “These increases in positive responses show that the Northwest Rutland is becoming a neighborhood of choice and pride.”
And I’m sure much more could be added to this short list. You can go to any Project Vision meeting (ProjectVisionRutland.com) to hear more about the progress being made in Rutland.
Certainly there is much still to do. Rutland is like many other towns needing work to make it a better place. The kind of change the optimists are working on doesn’t happen overnight, of course. It takes time, patience and, perhaps most important, persistence.
Persistence (pər-sĭstəns) noun: firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action despite difficulty or opposition
If the transformation of Rutland came easy, it would have happened already. The reason why Rutland is still working at it is because it’s hard. But persistence - tenacious persistence - keeps going even when the work is hard. Like Rocky Balboa, lying on the boxing ring mat, doubting if he can get up again and keep fighting, he finds the strength and forces himself up for one…more…round.
The people that started this change - and the ones that are continuing the work - all have one thing in common: the dream and hope for a better place to live, work, play, and raise their families. This is a noble goal, and worthy of our tenacious adherence to a shared vision of a better hometown. It’s a lofty goal and one worthy of our efforts. It’s worthy of our time. It’s worthy of our talents. It’s worthy of our money.
I recently had a conversation with a client about these things. For my part, I was sharing about the many good changes that have happened in Rutland so far. She listened politely, but then also shared that it seems like there are so many things wrong with Rutland and that “it’s certainly not the Rutland I grew up in.” I agreed that Rutland is different than it was even when I moved here in 1993. But I also noted that pining for a past that can’t be returned to was not going to make Rutland any better of a place to live. I said, “The only way to fix anything is to go FORWARD. If you’re tired of the negative news in this town, join in with the optimists and help to fix it.” And I’m happy to report that with further conversation, she was convinced! (My first convert! Huzzah!) She admitted she’d been joining with the pessimism crowd (it’s always easier to complain than to praise, isn’t it?) and hadn’t really been doing anything to help rectify the situation. And she also shared that she was tired…tired of being a complainer. It had become a ‘way of life’ when discussing her town that she ‘used to love.’
One of the chief cheerleaders for Rutland’s revitalization is GMP’s Steve Costello. Steve has written a fantastic list of 100 great things that Rutland has going for it. Please read and re-read the list. And go do the stuff on the list. And be of good cheer: with enough infectious optimism spurring more and more people to enjoy Rutland as it is - and joining in the work to improve it - the spirit of community and camaraderie will grow, and more and more Rutlanders will join in.
Now, some may read this and remain unconvinced. Some may say, “my gosh, it’s been long enough. I’m tired of waiting. When will we finally get there?” This reminds me of the kid in the back seat of the car on the family vacation. “Are we there yet?” “How much longer?” I’d like to offer a cheerful rebuke: if you’re not joining in the work, and merely complaining from the back seat, I suppose it will take even longer! I’d invite you to join in with the ridiculous optimism crowd, even if unsure and hesitant at first, and see what it feels like to be part of the solution rather than a part of the problem. And make no mistake, if you’re only complaining about Rutland, you are indeed part of the problem.
Look at it this way: the alternative to ridiculous optimism would have to be what I call painful pessimism. Imagine if painful pessimism was the mindset of everyone in all of Rutland County. 59,000 pessimists. 59,000 Eyores. What improvements could possibly happen when everyone in a place does nothing but complain? Obviously there would be no positive change. No improvement. Just a bunch of complainy complainers complaining.
Now think of the venerable Winston Churchill. As the enemy loomed, he spoke to his countrymen: “I suggest we all panic and complain about our circumstances. Things will never, never, never get better. Run for your lives!” No, of course he never said that. In the face of a terrible foe, he rallied his countrymen: “never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in...” This is ridiculous optimism.
I use the term, “ridiculous,” by the way, knowing full well that this kind of optimism, in view of the great load of work that needs to be done to revitalize our town, can be perceived as a little ridiculous. You may even be tempted to ‘ridicule’ me for such Pollyanna-pie-in-the-sky dreaming. Go right ahead. But I am convinced that pessimism is no answer at all and that the work for a better Rutland is worth it. So I embrace the term, “ridiculous,” and wear it like a badge on my chest. Like a crown on my head: RIDICULOUS. Ridiculously optimistic.
And one day in the not too distant future, as my pessimist friend and I walk together through Rutland’s REVITALIZED downtown, he’ll have to admit that, yes, the patience, hard work and persistence of us Ridiculous Rutlanders all were indeed worth it. Because this town is a ridiculously great town. A veritable “Comeback Community.”
Maybe I’ve convinced you, and you are beginning to believe there is good to be found in Rutland. I’d ask that you take it a step further…don’t just believe there is good in Rutland; BE THE GOOD in Rutland.
Someone should put that on a t-shirt…