COLUMN: If you want nice things…

Published 8:43 am Monday, November 6, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Today I write an open letter to Franklin and its surrounding area. I know, I know. I’m a “come here” who arrived in 2017. Which to some means I shouldn’t have a voice. 

Speaking of 2017, shortly after I arrived someone who had lived here all their life said to me, “You’ll soon learn something about Franklin. We have champagne taste but we only have a beer budget.” 

I’ve actually found things not to be quite that simple. We enjoy a quality of life, and have unique resources that make living here special in so many ways. Those generous resources won’t solve every ill. But we have so many things that towns larger than us can only wish for. Anyway, here goes. 

Dear Franklin area, if you want nice things you have to support those nice things. If you want new things, and here seems to be the illusive truth for so many, you have to support what you already have. 

Yes, we have quite a wide socioeconomic reality. No two household budgets are exactly the same, to point out the obvious. But across all price points, this same truth remains. I follow a few of the local social media pages, although I almost never post. Consistently, people talk about how boring life is here. 

Yet the reality is that one can enjoy a healthy variety here, much of it lower priced or free of charge. Our city Parks and Recreation offers an array of opportunities. But, they won’t meet your every need. Sometimes, one can find a gap and wish it were provided for. But if you look back, you may find we once had that team, program or event. Sadly, it closed for lack of participation or volunteers. 

Franklin Cruise-In, Third Thursday Concerts during the summer, seasonal festivals and holiday parades are all offered free of charge. There’s even a Living Christmas Tree and a Living Nativity. But if you want them to continue, then you have to come out to them. Better yet, volunteer now and then. 

The recent Homegrown Harvest Festival offered a weekend of high quality meals and entertainment, at a fee of course. This was so well done. Overall, there is a growing local music scene that is not to be missed. 

But I notice that some of the concerts, ironically with some of the better known artists, can under-draw to an extent that is baffling. Music In the Country at River Road Farm brings talented national acts to Franklin, along with food trucks and a beautiful setting. Singer/Songwriter nights at the Hubs Vine, as well as the Franklin Southampton Concert Series, also feature entertainment that you wouldn’t think of our little area garnering. We are blessed. 

If some of those are too pricey for you, how about Open Mic or Comedy nights at Fred’s Restaurant? In fact, one night Fred’s offered three singers on one program. All you had to do was grab a table and order something. How about the gifted musicians that Serve Restaurant and Belmont Peanuts bring in, all at the cost of whatever meal you order? 

Of course, this goes beyond mere entertainment. If your church has a good minister, don’t discourage him or her by disappearing for weeks or months on end. Show up and don’t make them wonder what they did wrong. Don’t let them consider leaving Franklin for another place to serve. Make it unmistakable that you value them. 

If your children or grandchildren have good coaches, ask them what they need for their program. If your student has a good teacher, make it impossible for them to want to move to another school. Help them with supplies and by making sure your student is doing the right things. 

No one can do everything. That’s not what I am encouraging. Although you will see my wife and me out in the community at all we can support. In fact, that’s just it: community. One discouraged concert provider spoke with me yesterday. He and his family put their own resources up front to support a wonderful series. We looked out over a mysteriously low attendance. 

I said, “Man, what’s the deal? Where is everybody?” He said, “I know, it’s killing me. But it’s not just the numbers. If people come out here, it’s community. That’s the goal of all this.” 

He’s right. Community is the very best outcome in all this. But the truth is simple. We won’t have those nice things if we don’t support them. 

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.