Giant dreams and giant realities
The article Chuck highlighted in his recent editorial from BBC writer Tom Geoghegan has hit the web.
I did want to highlight a few pieces Mr. Geoghegan mentioned in his article that really hit the nail on the head for me.
Number one: folks my age truly are coming home to settle down, and I see a plethora of opportunities for our community to work together to welcome as many young folks to the area as we can. The reality is that a good chunk of our population is ol…senio…well…over the age of 55. It is good to see this resurgence of young blood. It has already done great things for us.
Mr. Geoghegan also brought up one of the most crucial concerns I have as a member of the Blue Earth community: things to do in the evening.
Here in Blue Earth, since I was a kid, I’ve had to find my own fun. Why? Because most everything is closed up by 8 p.m.
And more often than not, that lack of evening activity lead to things no one wants our kids doing today: exploring abandoned buildings, hanging out with older kids I didn’t really know, and ultimately, it led to my choice in consuming alcohol and tobacco well before I was 18.
Fully admitting to it.
I’m saying it loud and clear. Underage alcohol and tobacco use has been at the helm of our small-town history for a long, long time. And it has been an acceptable pastime by adults for just as long.
You have your own story. We all have one. Whether we refused the offer of a beer from an older cousin or sibling at a barn social or bon fire, or accepted a red solo cup at a house party, it came down to being young and bored with nothing better to do in the middle of nowhere.
Shoot, we even have parents willingly allowing this to happen in their homes “so we know where they are,” “so we know at least they’re safe and not driving.”
And that’s where it starts, ladies and gentlemen.
That’s where alcohol abuse, tobacco use, and, as we’ve seen first hand, the onslaught of negatives that comes with it when people are bored in a small town. From drug use to stealing rocks on gravestones to video taping fellow team members while they’re being beaten unconscious and sexually assaulted.
It’s boredom on the kid’s part and acceptance on our (the adults) part. Quit looking the other way. Face it: we have some work to do when it comes to figuring out how to combat boredom in the middle of nowhere.
This is our opportunity to step in and change the narrative.
It is up to us (I am talking to the young community) to not only help our community grow, but to help our children become proactive members of our community and, eventually, the larger society.
That’s one reason why I came back. After being involved in programs in high school like Blue Earth Area Mentors, Peer Helping, student council, summer reading programs, etc. I found the value in these programs. It’s about being connected, informed, and involved.
And now, when I go to interview someone and talk like we’re old friends, it’s because (more often than not) we are! Like when I take photos at events and hear kids say, “oh hey it’s Katie the newspaper lady!” I love that! And I love that I know their moms and dads as my own peers.
I am also glad Mr. Geoghegan mentioned our libraries and our pools. Those two public entities alone do so much for our kids at a small cost to families.
We have an incredible, caring Police force; our volunteer fire departments and EMT crews go above and beyond for our communities that are spread so far apart, no matter the weather. Our teachers know all of their students and get to watch them grow up. We’ve even got an incredible theater company who put on plays and musicals for us throughout the year. We have a multitude of church communities that host suppers and activities for families and children all year round.
If you don’t see something going on in your community that you want to see (maybe a late-night teen center?) talk to your city council members, your EDA members, your business improvement committees, the Jaycees, the Knights of Columbus, a Kiwanis member. Anybody. Speak up. Say something. Act. Do. Be a part of this community.
I see the potential Mr. Geoghegan saw in our community. And with Janie Hanson getting things going with the Three Sisters, that vision is becoming brighter. It was so awesome to hear so many familiar names mentioned in the BBC article with their business ideas coming back to Blue Earth. Heck, it’s cool that I went to school with some of these big-dreamers. I am so excited you have the means to get your dreams going. Giant dreams becoming giant realities. Right here in Blue Earth.