Perception, Meet Reality

Posted on April 5, 2013

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Francis Tower, downtown Monroe, La

Francis Tower, downtown Monroe, La

On March 15 I was part of a photo shoot in downtown Monroe. Cory Garrett Photography ran the shoot.

The shoot was for the Whipping Boy Show podcast the pics came out great, watch for them to debut soon on the show’s all-new, soon to be launched website.

While waiting my turn I took this picture of Francis Tower and captioned it ‘Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares, and go DOWNTOWN!’ and posted the pic on my Facebook page.

Within minutes I got this feedback on the photo: Why? So we can get mugged?

I’ve lived in downtown for several years so I hear comments like that all the time.

Downtown Monroe has problems no doubt, some of the abandoned buildings aren’t just unsightly, they’re dangerous.

But the improvements made this decade are astounding, downtown Monroe looks a 1,000x better today than when the new century began just fourteen years ago.

Still, the perception remains. Downtown Monroe is dangerous, it’s scary, homeless people have taken it over!

I drive across the Endom Bridge at least once a day, usually in the AM hours. I don’t see hordes of homeless though. Instead, I see people, mostly people with brown skin, but the occasional pale-face like me, plodding across the 114 year old bridge to catch the city bus. And in the afternoon and evening I see those same faces crossing back into West Monroe from the downtown bus station.

They’re not the dreaded, feared homeless though, almost all of them are wearing uniforms, Wal-Mart, fast food tunics and name tags, they’re in hospital and school cafeteria scrubs, all sorts of work clothes all represented.

Never understood why Monroe buses don’t run into West Monroe. I’ve read quotes from West Monroe pols claiming the town doesn’t have enough demand to justify city buses. I bet those folks walking back and forth across the Endom Bridge to and from work every day would disagree.

But that’s not the public perception; knee-jerk reaction says downtown Monroe is dangerous but the reality is you’re much more likely to be mugged on Forsythe Avenue or in the Pecanland Mall parking lot than in downtown Monroe.

Its the same story with our zoo. To hear natives talk, you’d think the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo was a post-apocalyptic hell-scape crawling with homicidal maniacs and lawless street gangs.

Except it’s not.

But when we shoot ourselves in the foot and recirculate rumors about how awful and dangerous our town is, perception will trump reality every time.

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