The Bible clearly states that without a vision, people will perish. This scripture conveys a strong message on the importance of hope and faith and more importantly working towards a goal. It's a message all of Niles residents can truly enjoy and appreciate.
Let your mind wander for just a moment and envision this. It's a beautiful, bright, sunny summer afternoon. The skies are bright blue and a soft warm breeze is blowing just hard enough to slowly move the huge, puffy, white clouds across the horizon.
You and your wife are driving with the convertible top down on state Route 46 coming over the viaduct and into downtown Niles. As you see the light at the base of the bridge on State Street begin to change, you come to a stop. You notice right away the increased foot traffic on Main Street, primarily coming up from the newly renovated parking areas across from the city building on State Street and wrapping down under the bridge by the river. Your wife mentions that due to how well the parking lot renovations went, she's hearing around town that it's now full speed ahead for the Riverside Patio Restaurant down below the bridge that was proposed last year.
You catch a hint of fresh flowers in the air that you quickly attribute to the gorgeous hanging flower baskets that now adorn each individual telephone pole throughout the entire downtown area. You comment to your wife just how convenient and nice it is now that the four new storefront specialty shops are open and just how excited you are to see the three new cafes and coffee shops doing so well. That talk of food causes a change in plans as you both decide to "skip the trip to the strip" and catch a bite downtown.
Your wife mentions that she is still trying to find out who deserves the credit for all the new, beautiful landscaping that surrounds the new decorative brick walkways throughout the downtown area. You point out that the new quaint light posts are all installed across the street from the McKinley Memorial on Main Street and how they really brighten up the nightlife downtown.
The ''nightlights'' talk brings back the vivid picture in your mind of just how beautiful and festive the brand new, bright white strands of Christmas lights looked last winter, strung high across Main Street downtown, and the joyous holiday mood they created as you sat by the fireplace at the Stoneyard Grill and watched the first good northeast Ohio snowfall descend upon Niles.
A smile comes across your face as you wave at your son, just up the street, taking your grandson into the new barbershop for his first haircut. As your wife leans over for a kiss, the light changes and it's off for that downtown lunch.
This can be our reality, here in Niles! I'm asking everyone to get involved, and let's make our biggest dreams come true. We can do it!
''Why not here in Niles?''
Please feel free to share this vision with each and every one and let's all become positively contagious with the energy and enthusiasm that is: ''I AM NILES!''
Michael Cline is the Outreach Director for Evening Light Apostolic Church.