Living in Jacksonville, one gets accustomed to hearing such oft-repeated remarks as “There’s nothing to do in this city!” or the even more common “Jacksonville sucks!” The people who utter these condemnations may have had reason to do so in our recent past. Jacksonville is not a great and vibrant cultural center. We have not broken down our walls; we have not taken the disparate partitions of our city and united them under the banner of community. This realization should not defeat us, or lead us into apathy. Instead, it should motivate us into action.
Our city is in flux. Things are beginning to change for the better, and in recent years Jacksonville has seen a renascence of its artistic and cultural sides. In addition to this, a vibrant entrepreneurial stronghold has established itself in the metropolitan area, ushering in festivals like One Spark, and prompting Forbes to label us the “second fastest growing tech services base in the country.” As we continue to strive for the betterment of this city and its inhabitants, we would do well to remind ourselves that all of the change that has taken place thus far occurred because inspired people made it so.
There has never been a more perfect time in Jacksonville’s history to transmute thought into action. The generation in college now has all of the wonders of social media within grasp. The same forces that contributed to the Arab Spring, and the current protests in China, are being utilized by the doers and thinkers in Jacksonville. We can now organize, crowdfund and draw attention to problems with great speed. Upcoming events such as Jax by Jax, and TEDxJacksonville, help to contribute to the growing inertia of change being generated in the core of our city. More diverse ventures like One Spark and the Jacksonville Art Walk are especially inclusive, and serve as unifiers for all of the fledgling creators active in the city.
Going forward, Jacksonville will inevitably take the shape of whatever forces are molding it. The people who do not actively join in the process of creation–the same people who constantly complain about Jacksonville idly–will stifle it. Don’t be one of those people. For those in college, remember that you stand before the wellspring of this change. Drink deeply; revel in it, and let its current carry you upstream. The St. John’s River flows north.