The residents of Pine Bluff have reason to be proud of recently announced development plans in the area of U.S. 63/South Olive Street south of Interstate 530. Since the development is an extension of city sewer lines, perhaps "pride" isn't exactly the word to describe it, but we should be nonetheless pleased that consistent growth is being planned for the area.

The residents of Pine Bluff have reason to be proud of recently announced development plans in the area of U.S. 63/South Olive Street south of Interstate 530. Since the development is an extension of city sewer lines, perhaps “pride” isn’t exactly the word to describe it, but we should be nonetheless pleased that consistent growth is being planned for the area.

As Pine Bluff Waste Water Utility manager Ken Johnson said, “We’re just glad to continue to participate in the development of Pine Bluff. Whether the result be growth in commercial and/or residential projects, we are providing service to that area and hopefully, accommodating the future growth of Pine Bluff. By putting in this interceptor line, we are standing by that endeavor.”

While the installation will not garner any celebratory parades, it is an important indicator of communal vitality. It is a literal investment in our future. As such, it is worthy of notation and praise.

This extension has been the subject of protracted rancor for several years. Residents in the area have vociferously lobbied for an extension and until now have been left wanting. Hopefully, this development will help solidify their commitment to the community.

Recently, we happily remarked on the installation of the Lake Saracen walking trail bridge and the improved Jaycee golf course. The sewer extension, while soon to be buried, should not be forgotten. Infrastructural improvements such as these get us a tiny bit closer to the community we all want Pine Bluff to be. Individually, they may not mean much, but as a collection of betterments, they send a signal that we are taking command of our fate. We have recognized that healthy communities mind the details. We plan for things, large and small.

These developments also provide a clarion for additional action. We should look around and ask what more we can do to shine up the place. Here too, it can be something extremely small —- picking up neighborhood trash or not littering in the first place. Maybe it’s a coat of paint or rehung shutter. Maybe it’s taking a minute to go introduce yourself to new neighbors or check in on older ones.

It is through the summing of these tiny (often trivial) niceties that marginal or declining communities resuscitate themselves. It is how we stop being a collection of people that just happen to live proximate to one another and start being neighborhoods. By extension, well-tended, watchful neighborhoods are how we control the crime currently chewing at the fabric of our city.

With a murder rate now six times the national average — with six months left for it to grow — we must do all we can to foment a collective spirit, to become unified in purpose, to draw a line in the sand. Either we start thinking outside our familiar mental boxes or we will consign more of our children to looking for their futures elsewhere. Yes, these are troubled times, but in the midst of the tribulation we catch faint glimmers of hope. Like coal miners trapped behind collapsed shaft walls, we scratch desperately for pinholes of light and air. Maybe none of us can move mountains individually, but perhaps together we can dislodge enough small stones to free us from the darkness.