Sometimes it’s good to get away from home to get a new perspective and find some new ideas. When I travel, I usually have Cuba in mind and think of how a park, planting, or feature would fly in Cuba. Often Cuba, Missouri comes out ahead in my thinking, or I may gain some good ideas that Viva Cuba can use. All the Viva Cuba members tend to do this and often send photos back of things we like as we travel.
The floodwall murals above are beautiful, and if Cuba had a floodwall, it might be a good idea. But for us, sprinkling our mural project along the Route 66 corridor makes more sense. It directs travelers around our town as they follow the “mural trail.” Although we didn’t know it when the project started in 2001, they provide a middle ground between other Route 66 attractions: Skippy’s, Belmont Vineyard, MO Hick BBQ, The Wagon Wheel Motel, & The World’s Largest Rocking Chair. Other restaurants, shops, and attractions branch off from this corridor, and travelers find their way there as well. It all works together to give folks a reason to spend some time in the “Mural City.”
At another stop, the waitress made us feel welcome. You can find that in Cuba too. Often waitresses and shop workers go out of their way to provide directions, chat, or express a friendly manner. A phrase that the waitress above used struck me though. When I thanked her for something she had done or given me, she said, “It’s my pleasure.” I thought how cool is that. Maybe it’s part of southern manners. Now, I don’t think everyone in Cuba should immediately start using that phrase because it has to be sincere and not a “canned” response. But I did think it made a refreshing change from the more midwestern response of “no problem.” I guess the main point is that she made us feel appreciated. She thanked us for coming at the end of our meal too. This appreciative attitude is something any of us can do when we encounter a visitor to our town.
Another positive that I noticed that could be activated in Cuba was the shop window signs that encouraged people to shop local and love Asheville (NC). These simple signs about Cuba could be printed by the Cuba Chamber of Commerce and made available to Chamber members. They show local pride and remind us that we work together to improve the business economy of Cuba. I would hope the signs would help businesses realize that they each important to the success of Cuba.
Another aspect that I found in Asheville that I liked is what I call small space beautification, and I saw a lot of it in Asheville. Any small space between buildings seemed to be utilized for a seating space, green area, and/or a little painting. They helped make the streetscape attractive and made a good impression because they showed pride and care.
I think that business owners or organizations with buildings might look at what they have available to spruce up around their buildings. It may just be a cleaning of a window, a display, a well-tended plant, or a coat of paint on the back of the building when it is exposed to the street. Maybe it is moving some visual clutter. A lot of those backs of buildings might be ripe for a little subtle advertising if it were done in an attractive manner. All of our buildings in the historic district are part of the beautification palette.
I would also like the city to look at empty buildings, weeds, and other unattractive aspects of our town in the business area and consider what can be done to improve the area. A drive or walk around the business area is all it takes to find areas that need improvement. Are there ordinances or regulations that should be enforced?
It’s fun to travel, but we all know it’s good to come home and that home is best. I just read a post on Facebook from a Route 66 enthusiast that said Cuba, Missouri was one of his five favorite towns on Route 66. Since the route covers eight states, I would say that’s pretty good.
But we can still get better. Maybe you can tell us some positive changes that you would like to see. Or if your business or organization is making some positive changes to beautify, send us a photo and a brief explanation that we can share with others. Let’s all be Cuba boosters.