When I first came to the Imperial Valley in the early 90s, I was allÂ about the big city. I grew up in Wichita, Kansas. About the size ofÂ Fresno, it has a population of 350,000. Like San Diego, there are alwaysÂ things to do and events happening every day. If you were bored, it wasÂ your own fault.
Being a musician opened up even more opportunities to keep myself busy.Â There are many bands and places to perform music in Wichita. You justÂ had to narrow down your choices to what and when you wanted to play –and I was always playing.
After the birth of our first child, moving to a small farming communityÂ and raising a family was what my wife and I wanted to pursue. It was aÂ culture shock for me, but I was up for the challenge. Then we jumpedÂ into our greenhouse business, which was a seven-day-a-week endeavor.
We were slow to meet many people, except for those who my wife knew fromÂ growing up in Brawley. It wasnâ€™t until we became Christians that weÂ really felt part of the community. The everyday routine we hadÂ established also set the stage for becoming â€œBrawleyites.â€
Interacting with others in the community, living and working here led usÂ to love living in a small town. The passion and commitment the people ofÂ Brawley exhibit is inspirational, to say the least. Everyone cares forÂ this town. From the Little League coaches to those in public safety,Â from the community leaders to the soccer moms, and everyone who callsÂ Brawley home, they care about this community.
When you look at downtown Brawley, you wonder what went wrong. BetweenÂ the exodus of business in the past few years and a string of arsons, itÂ looks like a third world country.
But there is change in the air.
New businesses are looking to open up in the downtown area. ThoseÂ already established are seeing this as good news for them.
Recently, we made the decision to open an office on the Plaza inÂ Brawley. We want to be a part of the revival of this area. We chose aÂ location that had been vacant for years but is perfect for us.
The downtown corridor has been designated the Brawley Downtown ArtsÂ District. With a lot of talented people in Brawley, the thought is toÂ turn the area into a destination for entertainment, food, and arts.
New projects are underway in cooperation with the City of Brawley, theÂ North County Coalition of the Arts, and the Brawley Chamber of Commerce.
The kiosk in North Plaza Park is being refurbished, new banners areÂ planned for the Main Street light poles, a piano-themed crosswalk willÂ be installed between North and South Plaza, and a volunteer-basedÂ cleanup crew is focusing on the Main Street corridor.
Itâ€™s already happening, but more needs to be done.
This is where the people of Brawley come in. In the years Iâ€™ve livedÂ here, Iâ€™ve learned the people of Brawley are the â€œheartâ€ ofÂ Brawley.
As in other cities across the country, it is private individuals andÂ companies that fuel the downtown revival. The city can facilitate someÂ things like parking and building codes, but itâ€™s you and I that willÂ make this happen.
There are those who doubt this will happen, but I am counting on theÂ people of Brawley.