We Must be Moved
By Kara Hackett
Earlier this month, the Riverworks Design Group unveiled its designs and plans for riverfront development.
If you’ve been following riverfront progress for the last few years, then you know that it’s been a long time coming.
We’ve seen sketches and elaborate renderings of what might be. We’ve attended public meetings, read articles and watched news reports. And now, we have an official blueprint, a brand and a plan.
When it was revealed on July 7, I realized the power this project could have for our region in a new way.
The rallying cry for Riverfront Fort Wayne is “Always Moving.”
Our rivers are on the move. Our city is on the move. New restaurants and businesses are opening every month. A different festival is happening every week, and you can feel the rush.
Facebook calendars are telling me I’m missing one event while I’m attending another. There’s so much to do.
It’s the type of time when my mom tells me to slow down, or I’m going to get sick.
But I like the fast pace, and if we want our region to keep going, keep attracting people, it feels like it’s good to keep busy and keep moving.
But as I thought about the phrase Always Moving more, I realized it works on a deeper level, too — one that often gets overlooked in the rush of everything we’re trying to do.
Sometimes, when we’re running around, going from place to place, it’s easy to forget about the bigger picture. It’s easy to be in the here and now, and the here and now is important. We’re a distracted, smart-phone generation, after all, so we need to be focused and present.
But Always Moving reminds me that we need to take a step back to be moved by something, too. We need to be intentional. Driven. Inspired by a larger purpose.
In my experience as a “young adult,” that seems to be the hardest part of the equation to achieve.
It’s easy to keep going, keep yourself busy, but it’s much harder to identify what you’re moving toward. And if we keep moving at breakneck speed, we might end up somewhere we don’t want to be.
This applies less to the brick-and-mortar part of riverfront development and more to the attitude we take going into this next chapter as a region and as individuals.
We need to be moved by something. We need moments of rest and silence. Spaces to let the weight of life wash over us, and time to let the meaning sink in.
Our rivers are where we come together. Where people of all ages, incomes, backgrounds and beliefs can be in the same place, and everyone feels at home.
In one of our meetings about the riverfront’s brand, a member of the group described the rivers as a space like Central Park where you see all members of society. Where there’s always an open bench. Where people come together.
In the world today, we need more of that. We see lives torn apart by racism, fear and hatred. Our rivers should be a place of peace where we come together on equal terms. A neutral ground where we stop hating, stop criticizing, stop pretending we have all the answers and just be moved.
One of my favorite authors is Elie Wiesel. He died on July 2 at the age of 87 after living through the atrocities of the Holocaust, authoring more than 40 books and winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.
In his life, Wiesel witnessed the struggle of ethnic differences and the horror that people can inflict on each other in fear and hate. But he also witnessed hope.
His writing is some of my favorite because it’s spiritually written. As a Hasidic Jew, Wiesel considered writing an act of faith, an act of reaching into the depths of himself where his voice could not reach and letting his spirit speak through his pen.
But one of the things I think is especially cool about him is his appreciation for empty space.
In his books, Wiesel said he believed in the importance of white space as much as the importance of words—the importance of nothing as much as the importance of something.
In a documentary with PBS called “First Person Singular,” he said silence tells stories.
“Silence in Jerusalem is something very special. It is unique. That silence itself becomes like a book. You can read it. You almost can hear the pages turning in that silence.”
When I think about Always Moving, I feel the power of silence, and I realize it’s not always the rush that moves us; sometimes it’s the empty spaces that allow us to just be.
As we watched the plans for the riverfront development unfold, we saw a lot of empty spaces. Places where you can sit and contemplate life. “Watch the world go by” was the term architects at Design Collaborative kept using.
My hope is that as we seek silence, as we watch the world, we will be moved.
Looking to the future of our city, our region, our country, it’s easy to see what we want. It’s easy to pursue personal goals for personal reasons. To see this city as our city. This river as our river. This country as our country. This life as our life. And to some extent, ownership is good and natural.
But as we keep moving forward, we must move together. We must allow the triumphs and tragedies we experience to change us. We must think back on those who have gone before us and remember the lessons of history, or the witnesses in our lives and in our world have gone to waste.
In busy, exciting times, it’s easy to forget. But we must remember.
We are moving, and we must be moved.
“First Person Singular” http://www.pbs.org/eliewiesel/life/henry.html
HereSay, in partnership with YLNI, is a bi-weekly blog about our say on what’s happening here. It is written by YLNI member Kara Hackett, and the opinions are her own. Photo by Matt Thomas. HereSay@ylni.org