The Green is more than a lawn

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Andy Sauer

Andy Sauer

Earlier this summer, I saw about a dozen people congregating by the Civil War memorial on the Green. It was about 8 p.m. and hot by New England standards. I mused that perhaps at least a small measure of communal spirit had returned to our bucolic town and that Suffieldians were finally making use of the public gathering place the central plot was meant to be.

Sort of. It was all about Pokémon Go! Apparently, the area holds some significance to players of the mobile game. At least someone’s making use of the Green.

Outside of the annual Suffield on the Green, slated for September 10 and 11, the farmers’ market held on summer Saturdays and the occasional event, the Green is mostly a flourish of the Suffield landscape.

This is not what John Pynchon and the other founders had in mind when they set aside land in 1670 in the center of town. The idea of a green came from England where land would regularly be set aside for community use. Sure, the early settlers probably saw the Green as a place to graze cattle and to lock the occasional miscreant into the stockade, but they’d probably be OK with people using it to hang out once in awhile.

When I first moved to Suffield, I heard a story that the town wanted to use part of the southern Green for parking spots along High Street, and that residents protested the plan, putting signs on the grass saying the town wanted to pave over the Green. Ultimately, they saved the Green. People do care about it. So, why are we underutilizing it?

Suffield has history and people who love history; we should have historical-themed events. We have artists; let’s have outdoor art shows or craft fairs. We have, you know, people; we should have more reasons to get more people together more often on the Green.

Don’t get me wrong. I know we’re going to do all this in a few days for the big Suffield on the Green event. For one weekend, we get a glimpse of what active community life in the center of town could be like. Just about every civic group and business is represented. There’s food, music, games and a lot of fun to be had by anyone who wants to have it. By Monday, all that remains are a few booths. By Tuesday, it’s just another landmark for people driving through town.

There’s got to be something more we can do with this gift left us by Suffield’s founders.

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