By Tara Bitzan, Director, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
If you want to live in the kind of town
Like the kind of town you like,
You needn’t slip your clothes in a grip
And start on a long, long hike.
You’ll only find what you left behind,
For there’s nothing really new.
You knock yourself when you knock your town –
it isn’t the town it’s you.
Real towns aren’t made by men afraid
Lest somebody get ahead.
If everyone works and no one shirks
You’ll raise a town from the dead.
If, while you make your personal stake,
Your neighbor makes his, too,
Your town will be what you want to see –
It isn’t the town, it’s you.
According to online research, this poem was written in 1942 by R. W. Glover. While the verbiage is a bit outdated, the message is still relevant. Here are some points to ponder:
“You’ll only find what you left behind, For there’s nothing really new.”
At times it’s easy to assume “the grass is greener” somewhere else, but is it really?
A gentleman came into the Chamber one day to pick up some resources. During our conversation, he stated that he grew up here, moved away for several decades, and returned upon retirement. He said Alexandria is a shining star compared to other communities of similar size. Because he had lived in other communities, he had actual experiences that supported his statement.
Often when we have complaints, we are lacking the experience of true comparisons to support those complaints. You can’t just spend a weekend in another community and think it’s utopia. To truly experience it, you need to live there.
Do you think our community is lacking in services or amenities? Think prices are too high? Think quality is too low? Think customer service – the roads – the parks – the [insert anything here] are subpar? Compared to what? You may be surprised to find out that other communities have the same struggles, or, if they are stronger in certain areas, they are likely lacking in others.
“You knock yourself when you knock your town – it isn’t the town it’s you.”
If your community is lacking in something, what are you doing to try to make it better? Community is defined as “a group of people living in the same place.” It’s the people that make a community what it is. A “town” can’t make decisions. The people in the town do that. A “town” can’t make changes and improvements. The people in the town do that. So, if there are things you don’t like about your town, do something about it.
“Real towns aren’t made by men afraid, Lest somebody get ahead.”
There tends to be high levels of competitiveness between businesses in a community. But successful business leaders realize that if we don’t work together for the good of our community, we’ll all suffer, you AND your competition. Wouldn’t you rather see you and your competition thrive together?
Fortunately, many of the businesses in this community realize this. That is why we often see competitors standing side-by-side at community events and joining together for community causes. If every business leader in this town focused only on their business and not on the community as a whole, we’d quickly unravel.
If, while you make your personal stake, Your neighbor makes his, too,
Your town will be what you want to see – It isn’t the town, it’s you.
Got a complaint about your community? Do something about it, or… maybe it’s time to start that “long, long hike” to find your utopia elsewhere.