An Open letter
To the Youth of the City: A Call to Action
I took this photograph a few years ago now and it has haunted me since, for it poses a real question about what is actually going on here and seems far more fitting of a Third World port.
Gloucester will be 400 years old, in just nine more years 2023…
What will Gloucester be about in nine more years? Do you wonder as well?
What will you want to celebrate about your city at her 400th birthday ?
I was 13 years old during the city’s 350th celebration and it was a very different city.
No one asked me back then what I wanted the city to be 50 years hence. If they had, I’m not sure that I would have of thought it would be so different at all at 13, or that being a wharf rat with your Gramps, wouldn’t exist as a common situation.
But the city of my youth is now gone and here we are at a crossroads. There is no point in lamenting. The question is where do we go from here and how can we best arrive there?
What makes this place special? How do we hold onto that while also moving forward?
What are the top five or so attributes that make Gloucester unique and a place you want to live in? Can you hold onto them through the changes you see coming?
What do you see that needs to change to make a life here for your generation to be able to stay here and thrive?
Would you take a moment and consider what you would want as 20- to 30-year-olds living in your city today for work, living places, cultural activity, places to play, and access to shoreline and Dogtown? How do you define a quality life? What would it look like and how would it feel?
Because I truly wonder about the type of future we’re building for this child in the photograph, or for the children your generation will raise here.
If you don’t envision it, you won’t stand a chance of making it happen.
If you don’t act on your vision you will lose your city as you know it.
Much like my generation now has. Despite strong late attempts to forestall the Government’s regulatory schemes, we have suffered the loss of industry along with the proud independent way of life that was prevalent for over 380 years. How much longer are we to be the “Fighting Fisherman” of Gloucester?
This place has always stood for something. Since its very inception it’s had strong values for both hard work and hard living and been a vibrant city with entrepreneurial spirit and a lot of creative energies.
Maintaining a city requires dedication and effort and you have to start now as a generation, you can’t leave it to others. You have to take care of your home, and the city is also your home. Few of my generation did so and we are paying the price now.
Pick up the torch, take control of your future, get involved, define your vision
and then commit to acting on it. Work to see that your city government is transparent and accountable to you.
But don’t let the lack of vision within the city allow it to be less than it could be or be developed into a city you don’t want to live in or don’t see yourselves fitting into.
Many cities across the nation are facing the same challenges. How we respond to it defines character.
Gloucester as a place has never lacked character.
So what do you want your Gloucester to be?
How can you build a future to be proud about in 2023 in 2073?
You have to figure it out, if you are to stay here so that the city can function as the living organism cities are. The older generations will certainly help you along the way, as that is the Gloucester way.
So I ask you to contribute to this blog. Write about how you feel. Join the dialog and start working toward building a consensus on how you can affect the changes you want most and make Gloucester endure as a city that you can build a richer quality life in—one you can feel good about leaving to future generations.
Gloucester should endure as Gloucester
It’s your home. Only you can take care of her and see to that.
Ernest Morin Is a native of the City and a socially concerned documentary photographer.