I’ve given this some serious thought and decided it needs to be said. As a parent and a former teacher we have responsibilities to tell our children and students when they are doing well and to nail them when they’re not. I was in Greenfield this past Saturday and in fairness there were all kinds of people doing all kinds of things and much of it involved community and family activities. Lots of parents and children at Mitchell Park, New Directions running their rummage sale, members of the historical society meeting to plan their annual tea and other activities, jr. high parents, coaches, and kids holding a bake sale at Shopko, etc.
Also, there was an effort taking place along the community’s bike/hike trail to spiff it up for the spring and summer. On Facebook, on Ron Coffey’s blog, and on this site, it was a well advertised event and was part of several long threads in several groups about the state of the community and what can be done to make things better.
One of these threads had nearly 200 entries with certainly that many more readers who followed the discussion but didn’t get into it. Cindi Pearce had several threads going on her Facebook page and expressed many of the problems and frustrations she and others have dealt with in the past, especially in getting local people to take an active part in efforts and events.
Ron Dudley, Jr. has been instrumental in trying to promote community betterment events and get people involved. It was Ron who organized the bike trail cleanup. I really don’t know what kind of turnout he was expecting but here’s what he got. He got about a dozen people to show up and I think only he and one other were actual residents of Greenfield. That’s two citizens out of a population of nearly 5,000 who were willing to find two hours on a Saturday morning that will help make the town a better place for many months to come.
Why is that? Why is it that seemingly endless people are willing to sit in front of their computers and chat forever about what’s wrong with Greenfield, or how they remember it having been, yet they don’t show up to help make it better or help restore some of what they claim to so much miss? Why do former Greenfielders, who are just as vocal, not come home to help if they only live an hour or two away?
There’s lots of praise to be passed out to some very hard-working people in this area. In the worst of recent times we have seen a group come together and revitalize the facilities at Mitchell Park and save our little league summer sports program. We’ve seen a group of kids and their parents earn around $50,000 for construction of a skate board park, we’ve seen a group perform much needed maintenance at Imagination Kingdom, light up the Village[pullquote]But, in spite of all this effort to make our village better for everyone, it seems to be done by just a small fraction of the people most affected. And worse yet, when things are accomplished the majority, or even a decent minority, doesn’t seem interested in availing themselves.[/pullquote] Building at Christmas, organize a nice farmer’s market to enrich our lives, take risks on new business ventures in the business district, offer to serve on village government, the school board, public commissions and committees, etc. And this doesn’t even mention the totally unknown people who on their own are doing things to help. One former student told me that several times during the winter he took his ATV and chainsaw to the bike trail and cleared off fallen limbs and debris after storms.
But, in spite of all this effort to make our village better for everyone, it seems to be done by just a small fraction of the people most affected. And worse yet, when things are accomplished the majority, or even a decent minority, doesn’t seem interested in availing themselves. Maybe I’m just stuck in a rut but every time there is an event, such as free music at Subway, why are there only a hundred people, or less, taking part? In a town of our size why aren’t there at least a fifth of the population coming together, enjoying each other’s company, and strengthening the bonds of our society?
I, and others, can write and talk to that state of blueness in the face and never know the full answer. But a good part of the answer, like for so many questions, lies within each of us. Life is what we as individuals and communities make it. That’s another thing we’re all obligated to teach our children and students.