The needler in the haystack.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Of square pegs, round holes and Plainfield


People aren't the only thangs that can be square pegs in round holes.


Today's sermon for Plainfield Today readers concerns square pegs, round holes and our beloved community.

Yesterday, I attended the memorial service of an old church friend and was reminded of an important life lesson -- as important for a community as for an individual.

Bill Weston was an accomplished musician and singer who was already ensconced in the choir of Grace Episcopal Church when I arrived there in the mid-1980s. Of West Indian descent, he was one of the first Black families who had made Grace their church home.

A previous rector had been notorious for greeting Black visitors at the end of the service with the remark that they 'might feel more comfortable at the 'other' church down the street'. And he underscored it with a chilly demeanor if anyone had the temerity not to get the message.

But Bill cared for the Anglican musical heritage and knew this was the place for him to share his gifts. So he stayed, and flourished, as did Grace Church, even as it changed to become reflective of its community.

His son Trevor, a composer, told a story of his Dad that was revealing of Bill's approach to life and a helpful point of view for Plainfielders about our community.

As he prepared to enter college, Trevor told his Dad that he did not want to study music as everyone had assumed he would. No, he said, he wanted to study computer science. Why? Because that's where the money is, he replied.

His Dad was not happy. He did not think that was a fulfilling way for anyone to plan his life, Trevor included. He believed such a course of action would be of the 'square peg in a round hole' sort and would leave Trevor ultimately unsatisfied. Long story short, Trevor gave it more thought, studied music and is today a budding composer.

This story came right on the heels of my reading about developer Mario Camino's plans for the old Queen City Savings Bank and other downtown properties (see Courier story here), where he is quoted as suggesting Plainfield could 'become another Montclair or New Brunswick'.

Bill Weston's advice to his son resonated with me as I pondered the story of Camino's vision for Plainfield.

Plainfield will have a new mayor come January 1st, and that will bring a new team with fresh ideas to the problems facing the city -- including development and redevelopment.

But, just as with Bill Weston's advice to his son, we should not be afraid of being a square peg.

My hope is that Plainfield will take a deep breath, assess its true strengths (or 'gifts'), hone them, and bet the community's future on them.

Whether or not that means being 'like' any other community, or if it just turns out to mean being the best version of Plainfield that we can be.

What would be wrong with that?






-- Dan Damon [follow]


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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

But Dan, haven't we been doing the same old things in Plainfield for the past 30 years? And there is nothing to boast about Plainfield. I see nothing wrong with looking to towns that have had some of the same problems as Plainfield and turned it around! why not learn from success stories, I think the adage fork Plainfield is that ," things are screwed up because people want them to be." Why can't we take old abandoned warehouses and attract artists. They are wonderful at developing communities. They have the imagination. Why can't we attract a burin we downtown, a large one, that will employ people. Businesses have a knack for attracting hotels, restaurants, etc., All we ever come up with in this town is mixed retail space and affordable housing. Truly a lack of imagination,

Anonymous said...

Plainfield does not need more apartments. We do not have parking space downtown now as it is! We need more American businesses downtown

Trevor Weston said...

Thank you Dan Damon for this wonderful essay based on the eulogy I gave at my father's memorial service. He would have enjoyed and cheered your use of his words to discuss our history at Grace Church and his dedication to improving politics in Plainfield. Dad was, I believe, a former community volunteer member of the School Board, years ago, and a member of the League of Women Voters. We have shared this link with friends because it is such a great tribute. Thank you again. Trevor and the Weston Family.

Trevor Weston said...

Thank you Dan Damon for this wonderful essay based on the eulogy I gave at my father's memorial service. He would have enjoyed and cheered your use of his words to discuss our history at Grace Church and his dedication to improving politics in Plainfield. Dad was, I believe, a former community volunteer member of the School Board, years ago, and a member of the League of Women Voters. We have shared this link with friends because it is such a great tribute. Thank you again. Trevor and the Weston Family.