The Suffolk glow up

Published 10:01 pm Wednesday, July 17, 2019

QuaWanna Bannarbie

In May of this year, Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson, extended the invitation to ‘’Come grow with us” in her State of the City address.

Highlights of her remarks celebrated how much Suffolk has grown in its population, new jobs, capital investments and new developments over the past six years. I don’t know all of the details that support Suffolk’s record growth. It does not take the details to see the progressive transformation that has taken place in our city.

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Recently, my family and I were driving through downtown, and we noticed some dwellings that were being torn down. My daughter used a popular teen phrase to express what she thought she was seeing taking place in her city. She said, “Suffolk is in need of a glow up.

Little does she know that Suffolk is experiencing a continual glow up. She has only been living here for a dozen years. Her viewpoint is limited. At that very moment, I wished I had one of those time lapse videos that I could show her from the year of her birth until now how much Suffolk has changed. Perhaps then, she would realize she is witnessing developments that she should give special attention. I said to her, “One day when you leave home and settle down elsewhere, you will not recognize Suffolk when you return for a visit.”

I can say that to my daughter because that is what I experienced when I left home and returned years later after serving overseas for just a couple of years. I was amazed at the changes I saw in my hometown. But my hometown of Americus, Ga., did not grow nearly as fast as what I am seeing in Suffolk today. I know my children are in for a real surprise in the next five to 10 years when they leave for college. Their hometown may not be so nostalgic when they come home.

These progressive changes, particularly in dwellings and new developments such as Obici Place, are representative of some good things happening right before our eyes. Yet, change causes us to reflect on the gains and losses when we have to tear down one thing to make room for another. According to Mayor Johnson’s report, the current site of Obici Place sat vacant for nearly a decade. For those of us who like Dunkin’, we can say the change was worth it.

While the term “glow up” tends to refer to changes in personal appearances for the better, I think it applies to any transformative stages that have positive results. Therefore, I think we need to heed the invitation of our mayor, but in a more personal way. She bid us to come grow with Suffolk. If our city is growing, we should be leveling up also. For what is a growing city without the people in it?

I dare say that these projections of growth in Suffolk are not of a place but of a people and our community. You need to understand it prophetically. These increases are not for the glory of land but for a greater expansion. God sees territory as the real mark of impression on land or dwelling that is not represented by a building standing or torn down but by lives impacted. Your community is the territory where you dwell, and it is what God sees when he looks down at your house, your school, your workplace, your church and you.

The data say that Suffolk is growing, and it is. I encourage us to grow with it and allow God to stretch us far beyond what we will erroneously predict. Heed His invitation; “Come Grow.”

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.