If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is a part of the tree… Michael Crichton.
Over the past few weeks history has been at the top of my mind.
Actually, this spring has been on my “historical radar” for some time as it’s the bicentennial celebration for Bainbridge Township. The Lowe’s Greenhouse farm has played a significant role in Bainbridge, first (as I am told) as the oldest surviving retail business in the township. Our founder, Carlton Lowe, is credited with introducing the Tuberous Begonia to the United States after WWI, growing and shipping this plant across the country from our current location. This also makes Lowe’s one of the first mail order catalog businesses in the country to ship plant material. Carlton would not allow anyone to purchase his Begonia plants before Memorial Day when the final threat of frost had finally passed. Garden clubs and other concerns from across the country would travel to Lowe’s to visit the farm, meet Carlton and hear him speak. The Tuberous Begonia is now the “official flower” of Bainbridge and is prominently displayed on the entrance signs to our community. Of course we are proud of our history and still offer the original American Hybrid Tuberous Begonia in our greenhouses.
This spring marked a sad conclusion to another part of my family’s farming history. From my Mother’s side of the family, 5 generations of family farming came to an end with the sale of their Mantua property. The house, barn and acreage which held so many fond memories have passed for me, not unlike a close relative. The time I spent here with my Grandfather were some of the most formative periods in my life, significantly influencing who I am today. This loss, while unavoidable, will leave a hole in my heart forever.
The loss of precious belongings, the passing of beloved persons and the departure of notable places are a part of what makes history. Another sad loss that is now noted in our history is the abrupt closing of Gamekeepers Tavern. For 40 years this institution was a main-stay of historic Chagrin Falls and a significant contributor to the ambiance that makes Chagrin Falls a desirable destination. I expect there will be something fresh and new in its place and there are many other great places to eat and drink, however it remains a loss for us and our town.
Too often, precious historical objects and wonderful places are often displaced by the new, the shiny and perhaps updated versions of what today’s society determines to be more attractive, more convenient and more efficient.
So, I ask you, what price is there to pay for attractive, convenient and efficient? When I project the current pace of change of our society, I fear we are losing far more than is gained. More and more of the same stores, the same combination of stores, the same layout of stores… while perhaps shiny, are turning our once rich landscape into a desert of dullness, tediousness and sameness.
Our once precious spaces are re-shaped for efficiency and voided of character. In order to achieve profit and to maintain price competitiveness, selection is stripped to what is more common and expected. With this model, service is diminished as the preponderance of consumers lower their expectations. Competitors who are unable to adapt accordingly may appear excessively expensive or become unable to maintain their properties and facilities.
This is the conundrum of any small business owner working within in a business environment that grows more competitive every year. Similarly, to many other aspects of our society, the rate of change is exponential with transformations taking place more quickly than we realize. Ultimately, the consumer votes with their purchases shaping the reality of our collective future.
One thing for certain, once we lose a precious resource, its place may be filled, but the value it once offered is most often lost forever.
So, as history continues to pass us by, I urge you to examine the added value that our most beloved local resources provide to you and our community. With your purchases and activities, you cast your vote for what you value, what is important and, ultimately, you are shaping history.
If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience… George Bernard Shaw
Now go outside and have fun in the dirt!