The Times-Gazette feature “Highland County Memories” has become popular, illuminating people, developments and events from the past. The Browder Life-Saving Net to help rescue people from burning buildings and an editorial on the need for teaching local history are looks back to past victories to encourage ourselves to go forward. The articles tell of change, of risk, of creation and growth, but some people seem paralyzed by the past mistakenly wanting to return to “the good old days”.
In my observations, many are carrying hurts and wounds and don’t shake them off. Reluctant to lose their hold on old ways and means; they hesitate to start living in and contributing to the future. As a result, instead of joy and adventure, they know only the pangs of remorse, and never have peace of mind. They distrust and fear the new or change because they remember the people and circumstances that failed or crushed their hearts. They have abandoned, inhibited and burdened the community’s future.
They strive to preserve and serve our historic businesses, but corporations have no allegiance to the community, only their bottom line. Corporate threats to leave or promises to come inhibit community progress with demands for services and contribute to our poverty by underpaying residents. The community gives guarantees of railroad repair, water quality, crime protection. Where is their $5 million dollar investment in us to match our railroad efforts? How many years must we wait for the return in taxes?
It is time to leave this diseased practice behind. Recognize the difference between being comfortable and stuck in something familiar. It is time to discard failed policies of the past and to confront the ugly, shameful present of our community. Move into a new era of determined purpose using brutal, risky change not band-aids of trepidation. The secret to moving forward is to repent, forgive and press on.
Greenfield needs to be refreshed and excited at the prospect of what’s to come; to consider these days of cheap real estate a gift, granting freedom to explore any and all opportunities and to create anew. Realize in community planning as in life, the present reality is the “reality” we live in. Accepting reality is the first step in getting Greenfield ‘s house in order.
I’m not a politician, I’m a local business owner who loves Greenfield. I came here with awe at our schools, our clean water, our environment, our promise. But after a year, for the first time in my entire life I feel an urgency, a hurry regarding my community. We are so broken, so out of step with planning needs, burdened with old, dilapidated monuments of living and doing and officials afraid to force the medicine down the throat of a sick community, rife with crime, poverty and neglect.
Greenfield has good people, determined committees and plans, however the pace and concept of change is stuck in the old and we are just ‘putting lipstick on a pig.’ Local action is required. Sweat equity by and in the community, new concepts with limited costs but real bite and civic and civil action to press and fine delinquent landlords, neglectful property owners and crime centers. This cost nothing new! The effort is small. Clean and preen mean.
Small changes sparked by community-unity can change our course of decay. I’ve acted, made improvements, contributed time, money and change. I’ve also suggested; a list of ‘small steps’ designed to impact the larger picture consisting of very low-cost projects that the community can start to work on now to make a difference.
The challenge will be persuading people and change will require commitment by Greenfield government to act. I’m not going to say we can change everything or fix downtown or every single road that needs repair, but we need new voices to be heard and put into action. The old have failed us.
I know it can be done, after witnessing the lovely outdoor wedding of Brycon Calhoun and Bethany Silvey. In unusual, unexpected shivering cold rain and windy conditions, the unprepared young, bare-shouldered bridesmaids, bride and three little flower girls demonstrated an ability to pay attention and focus on what was there in that moment. By simply allowing themselves to be guided by their innate intelligence and generosity, they were able to be compassionately present. They did not ask for jackets, sweaters or coats from others. Instead, they shouldered the discomfort to make a new beginning have a beautiful start.
This compassionate self-discipline—the will to take positive steps —is found through nothing other than being present and aware of what is required from you. If we simply cultivate our ability to pay attention and focus on what is here in this moment, the bad, the good and the ugly, our experience can be authentic, awake, honest, and joyful. Don’t be afraid of what can happen, be positive about what could happen.
‘Keep looking forward.’ Remind yourself why Greenfield got into ‘this’ in the first place. While taking the positive from what lies behind, lean forward! Take a chance and dream beyond what we are, otherwise ‘you’re throwing away happiness with both hands.’ to quote Rhett Butler in “Gone with the Wind.”