I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City NewsPress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called “The Wind has Changed”.
Something’s different, something has changed, the air feels different, there’s a different wind blowing in Nebraska City, there’s a different feeling, can you see it? Can you hear it? Can you feel it?
I’m not talking about the cooler temperatures and the changing leaves. I’m not even talking about how the fields that surround us have gone from green to brown to barren during the harvest. I’m not even talking about the impending closure of a good portion of the town’s attractions for the season. I’m talking about a sense that I get that we are in an exciting and seminal moment in the life of Nebraska City.
I’m sure that these moments have come several times over our long history. There are moments like this in the lives of towns all over the country, but right now it’s our time. It’s our time to actually do some of the things that people in this town have been talking about for decades. You might ask yourself, how do I know, I’ve only lived here less than two years? I know because I’ve been listening to those of you who were born and raised here, those of you whose families helped charter this town, and have been here for generations. I’ve also listened to a new generation of people, a group of people who have devotion and excitement about this town, those who have chosen to move here to raise families, those who have chosen to return here to make a life when so many others moved away. They are here and they are ready to work, they want to be involved.
All it takes is a chance, a chance for new ideas to come to the forefront before they get squashed down with a chorus of, “We’ve never done it that way!” A chance to take our words and put them into action, a chance to, like a coal miner friend of mine would say, “Be who you say you are.”
We say we are the best town in Nebraska, there’s a billboard that says, “A town so great they built a state around it.” We say this is a great town to raise your kids in, a great town to start a business in, a great town to live in. If we REALLY believe those things, we should DO something about it. According to the Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce, Inc. we’ve had record sales and record numbers of people coming to Nebraska City to celebrate, to shop, to enjoy our festivals, and all the things we say we love about our town.
The way I see it, we are at a crossroads. We can do the same things we’ve done in the past, we can be led by the same people, we can make the same excuses for why things won’t work or why we can’t do it, we can continue to blame society, the younger generation, the economy, the president, our neighbor, and continue to not take responsibility for how we got here. If we follow this path, it will only lead to a slow, painful death of a town that we all love. We have seen this story played out all over the country as small towns continue a downward spiral to extinction.
There is another path. We can go a different way, we can let new leaders emerge, we can listen to them, we can support them, we can find our opportunities, and we can make a way. We can decide our own future, a future with more community involvement, more job opportunities, more attractions for families, more things to be proud of, more things that allow us to walk tall and be proud of the fact that we are RED TO THE CORE! Offering for the future generations the chance to say they grew up in the best place in Nebraska, the Midwest, and the country.
I know it sounds like a big, bold move…it is! We won’t fix everything overnight, but there is something in the air, a new wind blowing in Nebraska City. I hope and pray that we can harness it before it floats away.
At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here are my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.
Favorite: The new energy and determination I see here in Nebraska City.
Not Favorite: This was a pretty good week, so I don’t have a not favorite.