By Karen Gordon
“You ask me why I love her? Well, give me time and I’ll explain.”
Those words from John Wayne always resonate with me because Augusta is many things to many people. Augusta is the Garden City, golf central, the birthplace of soul and the Silicon Valley of the south. For me, this is where I grew up and where I choose to call home. Augusta is home to my family and to an ever-expanding creative class and collaborative community and downtown is the epicenter of it all. Yes, downtown- the diamond in the rough. The place where some have said dreams go to die. But upon closer inspection, you notice a tightly knit collective of independent businesses and individuals from disparate industries coming together. City leaders, business professionals and technical wizards are building stronger human and computer networks. Public school students connect with entrepreneurs and develop new disruptive technologies. Visual and performance artists are leveraging partnerships to bring beauty to unexpected spaces.
Augusta does indeed have its challenges – transportation, education and industry, and every now and again, someone asks, “Why do you stay here? Why haven’t you moved away to make music in The Big City or on the road?”
I always welcome the question, because the answer is obvious.
Everything I need is right here in Augusta and most of it is downtown. There are music and cultural festivals, historical structures and multiple opportunities to engage with the community. The Saturday Market, Jessye Norman School of Arts and the Arts In The Heart festival, all provide opportunities for me to pursue my passion and interests while serving the public. Here, I get to combine my love for music with my love for the downtown community.
Over the past few years, I’ve sought in earnest to discover solutions to our community’s challenges. My husband has helped me to understand that you get out of life what you put into it… that what you see in others is simply a reflection of yourself. I’m convinced there are always pathways to “yes” and that anything is possible once you decide that it shall be.
I see the tremendous resource that is our city. I see the gifts and talents on a daily basis and I see growth, opportunity and the potential for innovation. I see creative ones forming strategic alliances and stamping out the notion of the starving artist.
All of these things create a kind of synergy unique to downtown. We are family and we understand that we need one another to survive. The sum of what we can accomplish together greatly eclipses any milestone that we reach from our personal silos. In downtown Augusta, 2+2>4. “Townies” continue to work together to build a sense of place and to develop a viable collaborative economy.
It’s who we are. It’s what we do. We create, we innovate, we build, we respect, we live and we love. We are Downtown Augusta.
A diamond in the rough is what I see when I look in the mirror because I need polishing and refinement. I could use a good image consultant and publicist… a fresh coat of paint and a new wardrobe. I am downtown. I am Augusta. I am the arts and to reference Mr. Wayne, “You ask me why I love her? I’ve got a million reasons why: My Beautiful Augusta, beneath God’s wide, wide sky.
Karen Gordon is a singer, songwriter and the founder of Garden City Jazz. She works with the City of Augusta to present the Candlelight Jazz Concert Series each year and has partnered with RCBOE to develop interactive courses such as Taking Notes: Jazz & The American Story and Jazz4Kids.
This article appears in the November 2018 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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