And, The Winner Is. . .

On September 26 the winner of the annual Tidy Town competition is announced.

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Invitation sent to the Tidy Towns Portmagee, County Kerry committee.

Since 1958 Irish communities have been vying for this prestigious title.  Initially 52 communities entered, today there are over 700 entrants.  This competition, it is said, is not so much about winning, but more about each community working together to create harmony and to beautify the community, increasing the pride people have in the place they call home.

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I remember working on an air force base when word came down that the “Inspector General” team would be coming.  All of a sudden things were painted, flowers planted, roads patched, fences mended and shoes spit shined.  Why, I wondered could this not be done for the people who lived and worked here on an everyday basis, instead of just when “company came calling”?  Similar to gramma saving the good china and glassware for special occasions.

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Although this program was initiated by the Irish Tourist Board for the beautification of Ireland for the tourist trade, it now is more about community pride. In 1995 this program was shifted to the Department of Environment, Community and local Government along with the support of a national sponsor SuperValu supermarket chain .

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Hundreds of thousands of people make choices each day to create the community of their dreams.  They pick up trash, chop weeds, plant flowers, trees, shrubs, paint fences, restore historic structures, wash windows and many other small tasks are repeated each day by people of all ages and abilities.

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Schools take on art projects, you may find grandfathers touching up paint on the local bridge, children drawing their versions of flowers on flat rocks placed around the base of trees in their schoolyards. No job seems to small to do.  It is a great example of “many hands make light work”.

Have you ever heard this poem called “Everybody, Anybody, Somebody, Nobody and Someone Else”?

Let me tell you the story, of four young lads by the name of Tom, Dick, Harry and Joe.

Their full names were in fact:

Tom Somebody

Dick Everybody

Harry Anybody and,

Joe Nobody

Together they were the best of friends, but I must confess, when it came to a task they were not very good.

You see, whenever they were given a job, they all began to fight.  Because this is how it always went.

Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it and Anyone could have done it.  But, in the end Nobody ended up with the job.

When Nobody did it, Somebody was always mad because it was Everybody’s job.  But Everybody thought that Somebody would do it instead. Now, Nobody realized that Nobody would do it. So, consequently Everybody blamed Somebody. When Nobody did what Everybody could have done in the first place.

If you have never read this, have forgotten the rest of it, or would like to read it again in full you can find it on All.Poetry site. It is obvious that these four lads do not live in Ireland, where the communities work together to ensure that they live in a beautiful place.  Perhaps places rife with graffiti might be improved with Tidy Towns initiative.

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If you could list some thing that you would like to change in the looks of your neighborhood, community or city what would be on your list? I know on mine, I would have to write (excuse the pun) graffitti. Along with that, trash along the roadway. And, yards not maintained. What would be on your list?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a natural sense of community spirit to beautify, or just clean up the environment? How does a city create that motivation? How about an entire country with that spirit of beautification?

Well, perhaps we can learn something from a country that has has managed to create and expand this momentum since 1958.

And, the winner is: EVERYBODY

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Shared Passion!

What do these cities have in common?

They all share an international designation, along with 10 more cities.

Dublin, Ireland
Krakow, Poland
Iowa City, USA
Tartu, Estonia
Barçelona, Spain
Baghdad, Iraq
Lviv, Ukraine
Obidos, Portugal
Montevideo, Uruguay
And, Nottingham, England

Just looking at the list you could summize that it would have something to do with cultural diversity. Ok, maybe not Iowa City, Iowa or Baghdad.

Let’s put on the old thinking cap and see if you can find the common denominator of this puzzle.

Clue #1: All of the cities must demonstrate their active participation in traditional and new media in the promotion of this “product”; and, seriously endeavor to find new sources/markets in which to promote, sell or distribute this “product”.  OK, not much help there, huh.

You understand that the most difficult clues come first on the list, don’t you?

Clue #2: This product can cause people to love or hate one another; change the way some people see political or social issues.  It has started wars, encited hatred, been a mirror into the soul, left children giggling, and gave some people the idea that we could fly to the moon.

Clue #3: Some of the people who directly or indirectly contributed to this “product” have received a Nobel Prize for this category. And some have gone down in flames in history.

Another criteria a city must meet in order to have this distinguished title bestowed upon them is this: the city must have effective educational programs including foreign and domestic services for children of all ages and people in various economic and social groups.  In other words, available to all people in the city.

Stuck?  Perhaps the names of the other 10 cities will help you.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Melbourne, Australia

Heidleberg, Germany

Reykjavik, Iceland

Dunedin, New Zealand

Prague, Czech Republic

Granada, Spain

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ulyanovsk, Russia

And, Norwich, England

Still stumped?  Ok, here are some names of people responsible for developing this “product”.  Adolph Hitler, William Shakespeare, Plato, Arthur C. Clarke, Tolstoy, Dr. Seuss, Ernest Hemingway, Kitty Kelly, Alexander McCall Smith, Daniel DeFoe, Mark Twain,  Donald Trump and Stephen Hawking.

Do you think you have it now?  Fill in the blanks.  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ !

Oops, not quite there, yet?

Clue #4:  The city must have both public and private locations to store, preserve, showcase (as in festivals, exhibits, etc), demonstrate and encourage the use of this product in all of its many forms.  This includes entrepreneurial, traditional, and foreign translation which also would include music and dance.

This program was initiated in 2002 as the UNESCO Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity to encourage entrepreneurial and creative potential of small enterprise.  The Creative Cities designation includes literature, music, film, media, gastronomy, folk arts, crafts and design.

The 20 cities listed above are all Cities Of Literature and I would think be of interest to all bibleopheliacs/bookworms.  The next time you want to travel to a place that is big on literature check out Slovenia, Uruguay or Iraq.  For those of you a bit less adventurous try Prague, Edinburgh or Dublin, all of which have literary tours of the cities.  Just looking for a little road trip?  Iowa City may be your choice.  Just be happy, read books!

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Stay tuned for the next blog: Ireland’s “Tidy Towns”. A book we could all take a page from.