If lots of people shop from home and work from home more than ever, why does Rockland’s Main Street matter anymore? Oh, I remember now, we humans are a social species, and interaction benefits our health and well-being, and most people want to get together, share ideas, food and information with each other. Socializing is a way of caring for one another.

So how do we reimagine Main Street? As empty as Main Street has seemed during this pandemic, memories of festivals, parades, art walks, bustling cafes, food and shopping discoveries, meeting friends, and tourist traffic still resonate in the identity of our city. But will our future Main Street become little more than a playground for disposable income?

Can Rockland Main Street and a thickening of its side streets also anchor diverse activity? What would that look like? David Gogel, the new Rockland Main Street director, is charged with developing the economic vitality of our downtown. “Why only Main Street?” you may ask? Main Street is our flag, our core, a place to celebrate economic health within a set of fine buildings. If we pay attention to the vibrancy of our center, it can magnetize and ripple throughout our city. David Gogel is new to us, and we are new to him in these new times. He chose to live here. He sees what is happening with online shopping, free delivery and staying home. He also envisions inventive ways to use all of our city’s existing features in new ways. Yes, new can be scary, full of unknowns, and not like our old normal. I encourage all of us to welcome David to our city, and join him to create our new and improved normal.

Connie Hayes, Rockland