Editorial: Let's keep up the good work, Bristol

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Better together.

That's the motto of Mike Byrnes, co-chairman of Explore Bristol.

The phrase is taken from a book by Robert Putnam, "Better Together: Restoring an American Community." In it, Putnam highlights stories from across the country where civic leaders, business owners and everyday people are restoring their communities through social activism and working together.

Perhaps Putnam should visit Bristol for his next edition.

Bristol is the very idea of "better together" that Mr. Byrnes cites. Working together with business owners, Discover Newport, town leaders and residents, Bristol has seen an increase in visitors over the past three years; each year an increase over and above the year before it.

Rather than working against each other, merchants and organizations are collaborating, pooling their marketing efforts and reaching a wider audience base. They recognize that by maintaining an economically stable downtown, they are maintaining the vitality of the town.

Bristol's future depends on our ability to work with each other. Through Vision for Bristol, residents will get another chance to provide their input, which will be used to help shape the town over the next 10 years.

The previous forum was held seven years ago and drew input from 150 people who otherwise wouldn't have participated. They recognized the importance of collaboration, thus strengthening the town. That forum injected a renewed sense of pride in Bristol, and a surge of people raised their hands to volunteer.

The notions of volunteerism and collaboration are waning country-wide, as is evident with a lack of bi-partisanship in the U.S. legislature. We need to continue our efforts, not just for the future of the town, but for the future of our children. By demonstrating our ability to work together, we help shape better leaders for tomorrow.

Yep, Bristol has certainly become better together.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.