Aesthetics is a quality-of-life issue

Over the weekend something appeared on West Hundred Road as it passes through Chester’s historic village – Christmas wreaths. The wreaths were placed on about six streetlight poles, and they make the village just a little bit more cheery.

These wreaths were not placed there by the county or by the highway department but by a plucky little group called the CCA (Chester Community Association). Yes, I’m on the board of directors but the wreaths are not my project. The way the group works is through suggested projects. If a member, and everyone in the community is a member, brings a plan that fits the mission of the group, typically aesthetics and quality of life, then it is brought up for a vote. If the project fits the budget you’re off and running. In this case it was the wreaths.

It was suggested that after a number of years the group would be able to get wreaths in memoriam of a loved one, business sponsors or civic organization sponsorships in addition to the group purchasing more each year.

It’s always nice when you pass through a town or village that has holiday decorations. Sure some businesses decorate, but to have a continuous homogenous look in addition to private decorations has a warming affect, especially for those who love Christmas or enjoy the festive feeling of the holiday. And, it can’t hurt as a drawing card at some point, for business, for a village identity and a sense of pride for where you live.

Quality of life, that’s the issue and that’s what brings big business and small alike. Quality of life defined:

1. Quality of life - your personal satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the cultural or intellectual conditions under which you live.
2.  Gratification, satisfaction - state of being gratified or satisfied.

To me, quality of life reflects on our well-being. We should be both happy in our personal lives and our common or community lives.

I’ll tell you a secret right now about happiness: There’s no silver bullet. You have to find some silver buckshot. San Luis Obispo has the best emotional health in the country and the highest level of well-being, I believe, because they have a dozen or so things going for them that were put in place in the late 1970s.

Dan Buettner, the author of Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way,” which examines one of the crucial factors in longevity, happiness, and what makes people happy, wrote, “They made the decision as a city, rather than making the city optimal for commerce, to make it optimal for quality of life.”

Quality of life begets more business, and aren’t we told that’s what we need more of in Chesterfield?

Buettner continues that you need to be able to stand any place in any community and see green. Not such a problem here, but how much of it do we have access to outside of our own yards? And, it looks as if the next generation here may not be able to afford houses on big lots and may have to settle for apartment living. The way we live here in America and around the world is changing and we have to be ready to adapt in a positive way.

In this happiest place in America that Buettner describes, everyone has access to greenspace and recreation, which lowers stress. Blue Zones have street festivals and open-air markets and sidewalks that line every street, some 16 feet wide, befitting outdoor cafes. Notice a pattern here, and the efforts some residents are making to improve the quality of life here?

But just a seed of an idea has been planted here. It’s growing slowly with our annual festival and farmer’s market, both CCA projects, and some projects that have just become part of the landscape. But there’s so much more to be done.

In this happiest place in America a local architect and his students “intuited that quality of life was the most important thing to focus on. They audaciously suggested that the city’s 250-year-old Mission Plaza be used, not as a parking lot, but as a common area for people to gather. They put an art center there, a place for festivals. That seemed to be the galvanizing event.”

In February, the CCA holds its annual meeting. Projects will be discussed and board officers nominated and elected. It really is an exciting time in our home town. You owe it to yourself and your community to get involved. The CCA is your CCA and I’m sure you could help.

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