What Makes Ronnie Roll: For The Love Of Cities, Part 7, Thriving Through Loving

We have known that as enlightening as it would be to keep exploring Peter Kageyama’s award-winning book entitled For The Love Of Cities for the rest of the year, it was time to move on to new topics. Mayor Ronnie expressed thanks once again to the staff of City Hall for giving him the book as a Christmas present this past December. This will be the conclusion of this series, and I would recommend the book to anyone who has a love for cities in general, and for Athens in specific.

The mayor waxed philosophical for a bit as we scheduled several meetings ahead due to an extraordinarily busy summer season for us both. He asked, “How do we grow, which we need to do, and at the same time get better as a city? How do we really love folks in a way that makes a difference? We are a society that is much threatened by a lack of love,” he concluded.

We had just come through a pretty stout storm the day before, and Ronnie’s granddaughter Molly, who is 14, and Quinton, who is 4 and calls him “Pop,” were over visiting their grandparents during the tornado warning. He watched with the kids as a mama robin stretched her wings out and down over her nest in order to protect her newborn chicks. “That’s love. It’s instinct, but it’s love,” Ronnie said. It was a good segue into Kageyama’s conclusion. Peter said,

When we are loved, we thrive. When cities are loved, they too thrive. When we recognize we are in a relationship with our place, we start to treat it differently and we act accordingly. When cities give back to us, even in small ways, they make themselves more lovable. When we connect with our cities on an emotional level, we are more likely to do things, sometimes extraordinary things for our cities.”

We talked about what a great weekend it had been, and how the Mayor’s Youth Commission had helped at Earth Day. It was hard to believe that both high school and college graduations are just around the corner, and Mayor Ronnie has been asked to give the commencement speech at Athens State University this weekend.

Before then, though, the lively rivalry that happens each year at Celebrity Waiters’ Night at Applebee’s was waiting for yet another go around to be held on the night of May 2. All proceeds from tips collected by the celebrity waiters go to Relay for Life, and “Miss Sam” (the band teacher from East Limestone High, and last year’s winner), Mayor Ronnie, and City Councilman Frank Travis are fierce competitors. So is City of Athens Attorney Shane Black. We shall see who emerges as the winner.

The “waiters” are a good example of the last few words of For The Love Of Cities:

“Remember, every place has people who love it. Find them. Bring them together, ask them for their help. Find what is lovable about your place and make it better. Rediscover your city. Start small. Make a simple gesture. Then another. Then another. Make it easier to make your imprint. Open your hearts and make up new things. This is our work, and frontiers are all around us.”

So, as we always do, we prayed, and asked for true strength to “do our work,” and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner