Walking On The Sunny Side of the Street in Rocky Mount, NC


I’ve written that I grew up listening to my parents sing while sitting in the back seat of the car. One of those songs was The Sunny Side of the Street Click Here for Willy Nelson to put you in the right mood for this blog post. https://youtu.be/m6DJdiPQmGc

When I’m wandering around Main Street and through the neighborhoods, I see preservation, restoration and repurposing going on. I hum, grab you coat and get your hat, leave your worries on the doorstep – just direct your feet to the sunny side of the street. The song renews my enthusiasm for the successful reimagining of Rocky Mount.

I read on social media people who have nothing good to say about anything that is taking place with the work of revitalization. It makes me remember the waiting room at the hospital for chemo and radiation patients. When I was there, many of the caretakers sitting with the patients looked grim. They were certainly on a low frequency. Defintely cheerless. I thought, how are these patients ever going to get well with people like this around them? I wanted to take each of their hands and tell them how important attitude is in getting well.

Medical people that study this kind of thing say, “We don’t know why attitude is important, we only know that it is.” The importance of attitude fits my world view of things. Especially when it comes to the revitalization of Rocky Mount. Lord knows there is ‘stuff’ that happens to cause doubt that things will ever come right. That’s why we must put a stop to any shenanigans by voting out Councilman whose expiration date has long passed.

But look…. He who shall not be named has been named. (Everyday) Obstacles to grace, identified. Stake holders have pushed past the obstacles and are no longer easily deterred. Restaurants and entertainment venues have turned the lights on downtown, one by one. From my bench on Main Street, I call to everyone to cross over to the sunny side of the street, celebrate and support business downtown, invest in saving housing. One thing is sure, Rocky Mount won’t get well if certain people are allowed to continue to sit with the patient.

If you are a naysayer, find something in Rocky Mount to build a dream on. Your church, your favorite hot dog place, one of the fabulous art murals that make you smile. Start with all the good and godly people living in Rocky Mount, forever, or brand new arrivals. Bring a happy face and a grateful heart to the puzzle that is being built. How will Rocky Mount ever get ‘well’ if you add only your negativity to the healing process. Hold that thought the next time you give up on hope.

4 thoughts on “Walking On The Sunny Side of the Street in Rocky Mount, NC

  1. Thank you for your inclusion of the Murals downtown in your positivity. When we were painting them, every day people came by and talked to us about how good it made them feel to see this happening. True positive energy from every part of our community. “Public Art is what sets a city apart and makes it more memorable.” I am glad to say there are more mural designs in the works!! Stay tuned!!!


  2. What a wonderful post, Stepheny! I pulled up Willie to read it 🙂 and you are exactly right. I’m guilty, at times, of being on the wrong side of the street, but, going forward, I’m going to remember this post when I am tempted to be a naysayer. Thanks Stepheny.


  3. Beautiful article…in thought, word, and photo! Thank you, Stepheny, for taking us for strolls on the sunny side. 🙂


  4. I lived in Rocky Mount from 2013 to 2018. I fell in love with my home and the residents of this town. The City Park and West Haven was a daily walk for my partner and I. I grew to love my church and the host of individuals trying to make a difference. I wish the best for all of you involved with the reimagining of Rocky Mount It’s worth saving!


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