Someone found my blog while searching for “little five points hippie store.” I had no idea what that was, so just for fun, I Googled it. Lo and behold, I found out about an intriguing area of Atlanta called “Little Five Points,” which is just exactly the kind of place where one could reasonably expect to find a “hippie store.”
This article about Little Five Points reminded me of some places I love to visit. A lot of people are working on efforts to revitalize the Route 66 corridor through Red Fork right now, so I Googled five of my favorite haunts — Nob Hill (Albuquerque, N.M.); Austin, Texas; the University City Loop (St. Louis); the Washington Avenue Loft District (St. Louis); and the Makanda Boardwalk (Makanda, Ill.) — and sent the links to the girl who runs our neighborhood association.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I found a spiritual lesson in my research.
In thinking about these vibrant, eclectic communities, I noticed they shared a few important qualities:
1. Acceptance. The folks I’ve met in Austin, U. City, Washington Avenue, Nob Hill, and Makanda were all very friendly, very respectful of others’ backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures, and very indulgent (and even appreciative!) of others’ quirks. That outlook creates a fertile breeding ground for expressions of …
2. Creativity. Artists, musicians, and writers of all stripes are encouraged to express themselves in these communities. For instance, the revitalization of Washington Avenue began with artist/real estate investor Bob Cassilly’s amazing City Museum, which is essentially a seven-story assemblage of mosaic, sculpture, architecture, and everything in between.
3. Generosity. Just about every business in these districts will have a flier or ten in the window, advertising some good cause, whether it’s a photo of the humane society’s pet of the week or an invitation to a Habitat for Humanity project. Volunteerism is valued and encouraged. Looking around, you get the feeling that you’re surrounded by Good Guys … and you really want to be one of them.
You could argue that those qualities are just good business sense — after all, any business owner knows that in order to make money, you have to make your customers feel welcome and appreciated, give them the sense that they are experiencing something unique that they can’t find anywhere else, and present a community-minded image that makes them feel good about giving you their hard-earned money. But I think there’s something even bigger at work here.
Acceptance, creativity, and generosity are all spiritual qualities — expressions of God’s goodness. Those expressions make us happy. They give off what some of us hippie types like to refer to as “good vibes.”
The good vibes that fill a really cool business district are nothing less than the presence of the Christ, finding expression in thousands of tiny actions that radiate through the area and bless all those who are touched by them. Such neighborhoods are full of “reflection(s) in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love,” as Mary Baker Eddy says. No wonder we enjoy them so much!
I’m excited about the effort to revitalize this part of town.
I want people to recognize Red Fork for what it is: a fascinating area full of interesting, talented people. I want to see our historic buildings restored and used as engines of economic development.
But most of all, I want people to come to Red Fork to feel the good vibes that are found in places where expressions of goodness are valued, cherished, and cultivated, and where Love is encouraged to thrive.
It’s a time-honored formula for success: Seek ye first the good vibes, and all these things shall be added unto you. 😉