Thank you for returning to Common Sense Civics and Citizenship. I have a couple of questions for you. What are you good at? What could you be good at? How could answering these two questions help our towns and restore healthy respect for America from within our borders and beyond? It’s a citizenship issue, so let’s talk about it.
Every locale across our nation has something to offer. It could be the location, specific skills, unique industries, terrain, robust educational systems, and more. What does your city have to offer? Trust me, before I ask you that question, I had to do some soul searching. My city used to have peaceful streets, adequate law enforcement, a river running through it, devoted business people, excellent work ethic, and more. Lately, the number one description on neighbors’ minds is crime, lackluster shopping, political divisions, concerns about schools, homelessness, etc.
There have been valiant efforts by business people in my city. They’ve stepped forward to bring more companies specifically to the downtown area. Many new businesses have a short run, then close. The problem is that the focus has been on making money, not making a better city from within through next-door neighbor engagement. Here’s how I think building a better city could be done:
Grab a few interested neighbors and have coffee. Get a cross-section of people with nothing particular in common but an interest in building up the city’s assets. Who do you know that has talent and no place to use it? College grads? Retirees? Displaced workers? Young people trying to “find themselves?”
We had a great lady who used to bake breakfast casseroles and sell them out of a stand in a local gas station/convenience store. I’m sure you know a cook or a baker like this. Now, there happens to be a city in Wisconsin that lost its banana bread maker after 30 years of service. She retired. Someone in the midwest, or maybe in your town, would love to get those many orders moving out of their kitchen like the lady in my city did with casseroles. If your city has a cottage industry of bakers, maybe you can put “City Brand” banana bread on the map by exporting your goods to places that need it. From there, perhaps commercial kitchen equipment becomes essential. One of your coffee club members always wanted to invent a process that facilitates significant exports of banana bread with same-day freshness. So, they draft the skills of other locals to assist. Sometimes, brainstorming brings about people with a vision that leads to productivity, confidence, and a sense of community.
After years of hard work, you have built a municipality of people working together for the good of your city. In the process, you have a product that utilizes assets unique to your area. New equipment requires specialized skills, so new people move into your city. They see a sense of community there, a group of Americans working together of all ages and stages of life. It’s not primarily about the money, although you’ll make plenty of profits. It’s about the quality of life. Eventually, industries that moved overseas may want to come back and locate near you. They have grown tired of working in concert with foreign governments. You have what they miss — American ingenuity at its best.
I just traveled through a town I had not seen in maybe 15 years. They had a small hotel near a small lake in a tiny place that had a racetrack. I was shocked to see the considerable expansion of the hotel, the lakefront, the gorgeous homes, small cottages, and a first-rate racing facility. They maintain a small town feel with accommodations that have a one-year waitlist. This little village took its talent and applied it to the lakefront, construction industry, sports, and entertainment. I’m guessing they make enough money during racing season to last the whole year. I figure most people from there get their work experience in the hospitality industry. All ages probably have stories about the track, the hotel kitchen, housekeeping, management, and more.
When we focus on what we have in common, not what divides us, we strengthen our families, communities, and our nation. The perception of weakness as a country crumbles in the minds of those who seek to destroy us. There are entities from within and without trying to wear us down to break us. We the People need to make sure that doesn’t happen. It will take all of us.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.🇺🇸