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East Longmeadow has an outdated form of government

May 28, 2012
By G. Michael Dobbs
news@thereminder.com
One of the East Longmeadow Reminder readers recently wrote in to express his concerns about not only how few people attended the most recent town meeting, but how many of them didn't seem to have a firm grasp on the issues at hand.
I was somewhat shocked to receive the letter as every time in the past that I have expressed the opinion that a form of government designed for small colonial towns may no longer work effectively for a community of 15,000-plus people, I have been duly slapped.
The truth is that government for a community this size at this time is simply beyond the citizens gathering at some place and voting on issues. East Longmeadow could probably use an expanded town council and perhaps a town manager.
The poor turn out doesn't match the level of complaints many people have about how the town is run. Granted it is much easier to complain than it is to participate.
Now I fully anticipate the usual rebuke from people, but apparently there may be one less person lining up to chastise me — at least about this statement.
***

A few weeks ago, I wrote that there is an effective slogan for the city of Holyoke that is popping up on T-shirts and buttons — "I Am Holyoke" — and that I wondered what Springfield's slogan would be.
I received a phone call from Nancy Urbschat of TSM Design who told me there is a similar effort in the works.
It seems that Nancy has been working on a side project that includes a campaign called "Say Something Nice" that would counter, at least in part, the almost steady stream of crime news that dominates some of the local media outlets.
She has already produced a video showing how a lectern with a bullhorn and the instructions to say something positive about the city left on their own in a public place can yield some wonderful results.
There are plans for a billboard on Interstate 291 and launching a weekly e-zine that would highlight people and events in the city.
Currently, she is applying for grants to fund the weekly online publication.
So can you say something nice about Springfield? I can.
***

I'm celebrating a birthday this week, but one of my favorite films is having its own anniversary. "Star Wars" turns 35.
Now, this is now considered to be the fourth film in the saga by die-hard fans, but for me, it will always be the first film.
On May 25, 1977, the film opened nationally. I had just started dating my wife Mary. We saw the film at what was then Showcase Cinemas in West Springfield. I remember I didn't know quite what to expect, but I was blown away.
"Star Wars" was a revolutionary film. It took a kind of storytelling that had been relegated to the ranks of the low budget film and elevated it to modern myth. It served as a focus point for the growing phenomena of fandom. It provided the modern model of licensing and merchandising in a way no other film of its era did.
It also changed the way that special effects were presented and designed, something that influenced many films to come.
Perhaps I'll break out my VHS of it — the version I saw 35 years ago, not the various upgraded ones that George Lucas has since released — and watch it this weekend. May the force be with you — written in all sincerity.
Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.
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