Vigilance on Poinsett
Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2012 22:03
By now, I hope everybody’s heard about the Poinsett Project.
If those new Office365 emails have not been sorted out for you yet, here’s a basic introduction: headed up by the Poinsett Corridor Revitalization Coalition (PCRC), Furman is sponsoring a day of service on April 11 with an ambitious goal of involving 1,000 students.
The day is being marketed as fun and something that can be shaped by students’ desires; the four-ish hours of service will culminate in a series of speeches before dinner is served and musical guests perform a concert. Students have countless ways to get involved, whether or not they are affiliated with particular campus organizations, and are encouraged to go out for as little or as much time as they can.
This is not the first time that such a project has been attempted, and the 10 year timeline has been agreed upon and is supported by dozens of community officials, organizations, and residents.
“What is Furman’s role in this?” you may be asking, “And why are we so immersed seemingly all of a sudden?”
As you may know, President Smolla and the newly adopted Vision 2020 strategic plan - in addition to Furman’s main student PCRC liaison, Matthew Morris - are big on bursting the Furman bubble.
That’s a lofty goal, when you consider that that term and the concept of an enclosed, idyllic Furman campus community have been around for decades. While change is uncertain and the idea of opening up to a whole new world around us might seem scary, I support the effort.
I am not about to bash this project, because, quite frankly, I do think that we, as Furman students, can help revitalize the Poinsett Highway area. However, a word of caution: be wary. Be conscious. Be critical.
I think that one of the most important things for us to keep in mind is our attitude. Going into this project with the mindset of, “Oh, this area’s really bad. We know how to make it better, so let’s get started,” is not a good start.
It may sound great to some, but it is actually terrible. Condescension and pomposity are to be avoided at all costs. Just because we might have access to more resources than someone does not mean that we are better than that person, and I think that we must consider, above all else, the opinions of the people that this project will affect.
I applaud the PCRC for sponsoring a series of community meetings and taking that feedback into account in these planning stages. In fact, as I understand it, the bulk of ideas have come directly from the populace of the area, or at least county officials - not Furman students.
I think that it should be that way, because frankly, all most of us ever do is drive down the road between here and downtown without stopping or really looking at or seeing anything, let alone understanding.
I think consistency is important as well. Out of all of the things that Furman as an institution and student body are capable of “giving,” money and a voice, though important, are not as imperative in the long term as our labor.
The day of service will serve as a jumping off point for future involvement with the PCRC, and I cannot stress how crucial it is to take advantage of that in the coming months and years. Obviously, with the nature of 4-year institutions, the likelihood that we will be around to see this project through to fruition is very small. Also, the expectation of all 1,000 initial volunteers returning for weekly work sessions is laughable.
However, I do not find it unreasonable to expect Heller, SGA or some other organization to initiate a long-term connection with the PCRC and its member organizations; the impression left by us coming in droves for a day and then forgetting about the operation would not be a favorable one. Nor would it be helpful to any of the initiatives we would begin or people we would aid.
We must never lose our sense of curiosity. There comes a point in a project’s timeline at which one simply must dive in, perhaps without knowing the results. Discussing and planning can really only give us so much; at some point, you have to stop talking and start doing. That being said, I advise all who will be around longer than me (meaning underclassmen) to keep a close watch on the proceedings of this project.
Never stop questioning. Remain skeptical; keep the project in check! The PCRC and Furman’s Poinsett Student Congress are so receptive to feedback; they crave input. If you have a question, get it answered. If you have a complaint, voice it. If you have an idea, suggest it.
In all of this, don’t forget to consult those who it would affect on a daily basis. Go in with graciousness and openness. Truly, it’s not about you. Keep this project going, and keep it focused on the community we’re trying lend a hand to.