A response to Leslie Hager-Smith’s op-ed

In response to the recent op-ed by Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith (“Facing change brings multiple feelings, obligations,” Nov. 24), I applaud this editorial and would like to add a few thoughts.

I think we need to dig a little deeper into the origin of our apprehension to change. We should explore beyond the human condition to align with the known vs. the unknown. While very true, I think there is more at play here.

We (Blacksburg) need to figure out who we are and who we want to be. We have a solid grasp on who we were, telltale by sundry Facebook groups (which I adore). But right now, as you stated, we are unsettled. Our identity is unclear, which makes any impending change daunting because no one really knows what we’re protecting. But goshdarnit we need to protect something (!!!). Cue feelings of aggravation, urgency and fear.

What is our look? Our feel? Our design? Our style? How high are we? How low? If we were a song, what would it be? A color? What are our long-term goals? Do we want buildings out of glass? Brick? Hokie stone? Shipping containers? What is important to us going forward (not what we relish about the past)? This is almost laughable corporate retreat-type stuff, but a productive exercise? Perhaps. Something on which we may have leaned a bit too much on the nearby “gown” to solve in the past.

We feel unease because we can’t delineate the agenda of any proposed change. We don’t know what said change will honor or what it will respect. It’s up to us to personify a Blacksburg that is honorable and respectable. Once defined, our “hell yes’s” or “hell no’s” will hopefully be more in harmony. And our historically stranger-welcoming arms will remain open.

Landing on an undistracted (by VT, by money, by social media, by opportunists) collective vision for who we are might be a powerful backdoor way to navigate proposals that affect the future. Until we understand that, the immovable object/irresistible force conundrum will prevail.

I am very excited and motivated to sit at tables, cheers pints of beer (or glasses of wine... whatever... I’m not picky) to figure out how to actualize all this rah-rah talk. Because, pun intended, that’s what it’s all about.



Load comments