What Makes Ronnie Roll: Enjoy The Ride, Part 1

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie and I met on Wednesday due to the wild and wooly-coat weather, both of us scrambling to get caught up. As always, the mayor made me laugh with a tale of some kind of recent caper, and all of it played into us deciding on this article as the launch for the Enjoy The Ride series. The book is written by Steve Gilliand, whom Mayor Ronnie had heard speak at a national mayor’s conference, and its subtitle is: The True Joy Of Life Is In The Trip!

The “caper” had to do with the fact that there are thankfully a number of department heads who know how to find humor in almost any situation; the mayor had called one who actually had the authority to meet his unusual request and said, “Please flood the streets so we can make ice for everyone to slide on.” The reply? “Mr. Mayor, I’ll get around to it in July.” In addition, our City Attorney valiantly tried to slide down Marion Street, which is also known to old-timers as “Ice Pick Hill,” but unfortunately there wasn’t enough ice to get much traction. With all kidding aside, Mayor Ronnie shook his head in gratitude and said, “We’ve got guys out in 6 degree weather taking care of power outages.” The utilities guys are an important part of our team of first responders, and they are the best.

In spite of the weather, the week had started out with one of the mayor’s favorite celebration days of the year — Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. “It is always a great day,” he said. “The kids’ essays were good, and this year we had artwork, too. Raven Warner won the essay contest, again. There was the parade to the Event Center, and church at Sweet Home, which is always wonderful. It’s one of my favorite days because of the chance to fellowship, and it builds the community,” the mayor said.

Before we talked about Steve Gilliam’s book, we touched on the recent announcement of the new Toyota plant, and how it kicks up the need to plan well for future growth. Mayor Ronnie will be addressing that challenge on January 31 at the State of the City address to be held at the ASU Ballroom. The topic is “200 Years of Classic. Southern. Character,” and the question, as it relates to quality of life, is one of balance: How do we maintain the historical essence of our city and what makes it so special, and prepare well for the soon-oncoming population explosion?

Well, keeping a sense of humor is certainly a part of it, which is why Gilliam’s book is so timely. “Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here we should dance,” is the opening statement in the book, and the author is unknown. He also says, “Your life’s work can be found where God’s plan intersects with your passion.” It is not at all uncommon for authors to make bookmarks as part of their give-away promotional bundles, and Gilliam’s is one of the best I’ve seen. He takes every letter of the alphabet and assigns a word that functions as “The ABCs to enjoy the ride.” They are: appreciate, believe, care, dream, encourage, forgive, give, help, imagine, joke, kindle, listen, mentor, nurture, observe, pray, quality, read, sympathize, trust, understand, value, walk, x-pect, yearn, and zealous.” I could tell that it was time to buckle up, as this was going to be quite the ride as we travel through this book.

It was also time to pray, as the mayor had a meeting, and so we did. Then once again, Ronnie had to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner