Ocala, Florida, Tuesday May 14, 2013, the shot heard around the world, united we stand the vision of a promised land upon the field of dreams, still known as the United States of America today. What some may call a mission has become a way of life for local governments, communities and motivated individuals throughout the nation. In recent news, and surrounding many current events, there has been much to discuss with ongoing debates about the United States Constitution, and its proper application.
Today in Ocala, the foundations of freedom are enshrined by the everyday actions of local residents and government alike. Free to voice thoughts and an opinion, Ocala is a city of dreams that really do come true. Brought forth by a dream, the vision of freedom became a reality ‘the constitutions’, just as the dreams and vision of Ocala citizens have in recent news. It appears the city of Ocala has put forth a common senseapproach to politics and set aside all therhetorical nonsense. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is a phrase in theUnited States Declaration of Independence which gave way to the birth of the United States Constitution. The ‘unalienable rights’, with which all human beings are endowed by their creator, facilitate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are protected by the institution of governments.
The Objective Review recently met withMelissa Townsend for an interview about the local government, programs, art, music, culture, economy and the unity of the over all community in Ocala. Open government is a government of the people, for the people and by the people in a free thinking society. Ocala’s local government is no stranger to the people, actively encouraging its members and communities to participate in bothgovernment and community events. Before we reveal the facts of the events surrounding the purpose and inquiry of the interview it is only appropriate to first observe the following.
‘It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’ ~Abraham Lincoln, 19 November 1863, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
A government of, for and by the people, sounding out like the shot heard around the world so many years ago, can be found in the city of Ocala, located in America‘s southeastern state of Florida. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal’, and the city of Ocala is resounding that truth as an example for its citizens and communities abroad.
America is a nation of nations, separate yet equal, united as one to the world just as each and every one of its citizens. Such a profound example on an incredibly large scale, that originates from the people throughout those nation states and their local communities. A government of ‘we the people’, crafted for freedom and born for liberty, a society so inspired, creative and motivated they left their mark in the hearts and minds of the many. Through the innovation and ingenuity of a single idea, a nation of nations rose above the conflicts and answered for freedom as one.
In 1776, the American people wrote the declaration of independence that lead to the drafting of the United States Constitution in the year 1787, later adopted in the year 1789. In the year 1957, philosopher and freethinker Bertrand Russell wrote: ‘What makes a freethinker is not his beliefs but the way in which he holds them. If he holds them because his elders told him they were true when he was young, or if he holds them because if he did not he would be unhappy, his thought is not free; but if he holds them because, after careful thought he finds a balance of evidence in their favor, then his thought is free, however odd his conclusions may seem.’
‘We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.’ ~Preamble United States Constitution
Article VI of the United Sates Constitution is clear about the purpose behind the constitution:
All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
So why is the social and economic status of Ocala increasing with success? The answer is almost as simple as the words spoken by Ocala’s Community Cultural Arts Manager, Melissa Townsend. ‘That comes from the very top, from our city council, and our city cabinet which is comprised of our city manager and the city’s executive staff, they’ve all worked very hard to change the culture of our local government. I would say many folks think of government as.. its a culture of you know well you need to play with or along these lines and when you ask questions you’re often told no.’ said Ocala’s Community Cultural Arts Manager, Melissa Townsend ‘Well when folks ask us questions we should be thinking like how can we facilitate this? Maybe there is some rules we need to play within, but its a maybe or lets work together and find a solution to make this happen.’
Inspiring and encouraging communities to achieve success is not only a personal goal but a cultural goal rooted deep into free thinking societies throughout history. Marion County is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. Marion County has five municipalities and despite Ocala being the largest, it has an equality for all outlook and many open doors of opportunity for all.
In a sustainable community, success is achieved by unifying its members, as public events and social gatherings can easily accomplish this task. However, the community of Ocala, through local government, organizations and individuals have taken another step toward the pursuit of facilitating both economical and social success.
The Ocala / Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership and the Ocala/Marion County Economic Development Corporation have joined forces to address attracting cutting-edge businesses and the expansion of local businesses. The partnership continues with the exploration of establishing a strong business and workforce development atmosphere in Marion County. The story doesn’t stop there though, Marion County fully comprehends the diversity of this nation and its local citizens, and although individually each person is unique and presents a variety of cultural differences. Marion County and its citizens successfully stimulate and facilitate unity through a universal common ground. A universal culture and line of communication for all so to speak, a voice of expression to exchange new ideas or a vision of an entrepreneur rising to success tomorrow.
Ocala has many resources for its residents and youth to be educated, motivated and inspired. Which can be found at one of the many websites such as ocalafl.org. The programs offered consist of a multitude of groups involving government, non-profit organizations and volunteers. One project was the origin of the discussion, started by an individual many years ago, called The Art Walk. That individual later moved to New York and started another art walk there.
However, not only does The Ocala Art Walk continue today but Ocala’s Community Cultural Arts Manager, Melissa Townsend, helps facilitate that today with the help of organizations and community volunteers. ‘First Friday Art Walk was started by an individual who came to the city with a vision… the city partnered, we understood his vision, and pulled the permits because like Bronson sometimes you have the vision but not the means’said Ocala’s Community Cultural Arts Manager, Melissa Townsend. Who also revealed ‘this gentleman’s name was Michael Brey who took the ball and ran with it’. Economical growth resulted not only in Ocala, but also in Saratoga, located in America’s northeastern state New York, where he currently conducts another Art Walk.
That spark of creativity lives on according to Melissa Townsend ‘it has, so now we have a steering committee and its comprised of individuals representing the downtown business alliance,Marion Cultural Alliance, Fine Arts for Ocala, individual gallery owners and downtown proprietors…’ When Micheal left he apparently left a mark of success, as the community as a whole came together and formed that steering committee. In fact when he left the community, local artists and organizations came together and said:’look we want to keep this going we think it has great potential and if we can get everybody to be vested in the program we can grow it and make it bigger and better but we need to work together. So it’s a great example of a unified front to build a program and enhance the community and it’s a huge economic driver, not only does it showcase our creative talent both visual and performing arts but it drives business downtown and it’s a walk so folks get to discover our history downtown, our unique boutiques, gift shops and restaurants that we have here.’
Upon our review it is understood that the peaceful, warm and welcoming downtown Ocala is not only growing economically, but has a high public moral due to many factors including the positive effects of these constructive and creative events for individuals to express themselves on a more personal level. ‘I believe that’s true, I believe that they bring folks together. Art gives us a moment to pause and look at ourselves for self discovery, it makes us become insightful’ said Melissa Townsend and then commented on the high public moral ‘it does especially when it comes from collaboration, I think as a community we work really well together and we are seeing that grow even more over the past couple of years.’
Melissa was then told one of those members of the community was present at the interview taking place at the Ocala City Hall. Bronson Mosley, with the community video project Only Another Day, was asked about his thoughts on some of the local community programs and events and how it affected his life and the community. He responded with much appreciation: ‘As far as the programs that have had a direct effect on me I have to go back to the first Friday Art Walk … as it impacted us … having that program once a month and knowing that a number of the communities photographers…’ (such as Joseph Sardinas & ‘Robofoto Bob‘) ‘…painters, artists of different shapes and forms that you have makeup artists out there even .. knowing that everyone is there, knowing that all this is guaranteed once a month to be in one place with good energy and the people are there for a positive reason, … I’ve never missed it I’m always there … because there is a resource … a lot of beautiful people that are willing and want to do something valuable with there time … for the artists especially there is so much talent in this town. I’ve seen it day in and day out for the last 30 years growing up in this town and to have a venue to gather up all those people you know’, understanding without it, ‘I couldn’t have been successful with what I did. I couldn’t have extended off of it if there had not been something like this to draw everyone together… and its a big thanks to see that type of thing going on… the square and the social responsibility of the local businesses is like a hundred and eighty degrees from what it used to be.. it shows not just in the programs that happen once a month but also those events that happen everyday of the year.’
Bronson Mosley started a community film project, based on a vision and a dream, with his sisterDarian Mosley. Inspired by the Art Walk he managed to make that dream a reality with the Only Another Day film project. The Art Walk inspired Bronson, Darian and the local community ‘to do something valuable with their time’ as Bronson said. Remarkably the videos made are reported also as being used to raise funds for children with needs and autism. The Historical Ocala Drive-In Theater provides a place for the films to be viewed publicly and has sparked talks about a film fest being started.
Bronson Mosley and volunteers filmed at multiple locations throughout Marion County. These locations included local businesses, downtown Ocala and including the city hall. When asked about his experience with seeking permission to film at city hall Bronson had this to say: ‘It was like a Cinderella Story.. like a magical here you go… I never had the pleasure of working with Melissa directly before but she just gave us the opportunity and said here is the chance for you guys to film at this location’, Ocala City Hall, 10 May 2013, ‘she supported us and helped open doors for us, she gave us a window to where all we had to do was show up with the want and the people and respectfully we could film here.’ The Only Another Day project is filming its second movieafter completing its first in under 77 days due to the hundreds of volunteers and community support.
Selfles, a local band, who contributed to some of the music used in the project, being inspired, made a new album. Blake Abney, Selfles lead vocalist, present at the city hall filming said: ‘This is great having a place to do this and it gives people the courage and strength to be involved and knowing that were supported plus it gives the community something positive to do’.Standing next to Blake a makeup artist said it was great to get hands on experience towards a future career. ‘Only Another Day has been an amazing project. It has reached people in all walks of life in all parts of Ocala. It has opened a lot of peoples eyes to places around the city that people didn’t know existed … so economically speaking it has boosted people’s realization about all kinds of things like the Appleton Museum for example … and its especially important as a community project because we support local businesses.’ said Darian Mosley. Tuesday Glenn another volunteer said ‘it has enlightened me it has inspired me we even supported kids like march of dimes. I always wanted to be on the big screen and my father drove 10 hours all the way from Tennessee to see it.’Another Volunteer by the name of Becky Syn said ‘being on the big screen was wonderful, I never thought I’d see myself on the big screen growing up in Ocala. Another volunteer said it shows her to never give up on your dreams and all things are really possible.
What else has the overflowing opportunities for Ocala created? Institute for Human and Machine Cognition designs and researches a prosthetic to help the disabled rehabilitate into a quality life again. They also provide services and learning experiences to the youth in the community. Science Saturdays is a hands on science program for kids in grades 3, 4, and 5. They are held one Saturday a month during the school year. Each session is led by an IHMC researcher. Past activities have included lemon batteries, roller coasters, bridges, slime, and secret codes.
Which brings us to the Marion Cultural Alliance and what it accomplishes for the community and its youth. West Port high school and young individuals throughout the community are sponsored by M.C.A. The West Port High School Senior Art Exhibition at Brick City Center for the Arts, one of their many endeavors, helps inspire and support the West Port High School artists succeed in the world today. The raw talent of those very gifted students can be seen at the Brick City Center for the Arts. Having the pleasure of speaking with M.C.A. Administrative Assistant, Terry Miller, The Objective Review toured the gallery and viewed some of that art created by those high school students. As the art was vast in its variety of form, varying in its medium from simple to complex, the pieces were admirable, unique, creative and expressed the overflowing abundance of talent found in the students of West Port High School. Brick City Center for the Arts provides a place for these young artists to show and express their art for people to admire or give notice to an artist by acquiring one of their pieces, which is clearly a foot in the doorway to a new career.
‘Being a member of M.C.A. and having the opportunity to work with its Board of Directors over the past few years has been very rewarding. I have experienced Ocala’s diverse community participate in one of the most successful public art projects, Horse Fever 10th Anniversary. The success of this project I feel was a community success. Starting with the Board of Directors of M.C.A. who put the project together, the artists that competed to put their design on the horse statues, of course the city, its businesses and the horse farms for providing venues for related events, and most of all the citizens of Ocala/Marion County supporting those events. Thankfully it does not stop there. Everyone looks forward to the First Friday Art Walk each month, the Culture Builds Juried Art Series, and many more activities that are provided by local art organizations’ said M.C.A. Administrative Assistant, Terry Miller.
There are many programs that inspire and drive the community, even Horse Fever with an anniversary of ten years. However, these events not only inspire the artists but also the volunteers. What does M.C.A. Administrative Assistant, Terry Miller, get from all this? It is best said in her own words:
‘I appreciate each of the artists and supporters of the arts and I am proud to be able to contribute to and be a part of the mission of making culture a greater part of our community.’
The gallery is located in downtown Ocala which also creates a great economical driver for the community. Astronaut Neil Armstrong said one small step for man was a larger step for mankind. It would appear in Ocala, one small step for an individual is a larger step for the community and also individual success.
Because the United States economy is driven by perhaps the best example of a consumer-based society and a capital-driven citizenry, it is important to understand and interpret what role the government plays in the operations of our economy. Historically, the degree to which the government has played a role in the economic structure of the country has defined the large differences in the outlook and well-being of the citizens. Whether this meant the institution of greater social programs and economic safety-nets, the role of the government in the acquisition and redistribution of money in society is central to understanding the relationship between resources and the citizenry.
How does the government affect the economy?
How does the community affect the economy?
How does the unity of a community affect the economy?
Answer: Government is like a balancing act between having enough money to provide the basic services that should be provided and making sure that the public keeps as much money as possible to keep the economy growing. In really general terms, it imposes monetary and fiscal policies that either have a contraction effect on the economy, resulting in slower economic growth, or an expansion effect that encourages economic growth. As for the community, people facilitate the government and the government facilitates the prosperity of the people.
Let us review:
In the words of Melissa Townsend: ‘It is so rewarding to hear stories like Bronson’s .. I feel very fortunate to be in my position to be able to help facilitate for Bronson … we have had artists in the First Friday Art Walk that started out as Amateurs who have been able to change careers and are successful.’ Art is needed for many careers such as advertising, web design, architecture and even landscaping.
In an interview, 13 May 2013, Ocala Mayor kent Guinn said ‘we all have a role to play. Even the Chamber and Economic Partnership …they engage us as they need us.’ When a new business looks to develop in Ocala, ‘they contact us and say we need to get the city plugged in, we need to get the county plugged in, we need to get workforce or whoever it is, we all understand the goal is to create economic growth and jobs.’ The mayor agrees 100 percent that unity in the community is a key factor to the success of a community. ‘There are so many charitable organizations in this community everyone helps out in there own particular way … whether it be someone signing a check, donating their time, construction or whatever it is folks come together and like I said that’s what makes Ocala great .. it really is a special community’ said Mayor Kent Guinn.
Ocala’s social and economical success can be found by Bronson’s inspiring quote: ‘to create something that can be treasured’ as it has a marketable value.
The people of Marion County, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity have indeed founded it upon unity.