Love is in the air! ’Tis the season to shower that special someone with gifts and thoughtfulness. Every Valentine’s you see everyone’s efforts as they prepare to shower someone with love.
Last fall, our community experienced the ideas of a place-making expert, Peter Kageyama. As you may have heard or read about him last fall, Peter is known for his ideas on helping communities forge positive relationships with their citizens and vice versa. Peter explains how everyone has an emotional connection to their community, good or bad. He is known for his books, Love Where You Live and For The Love of Cities.
I had the unique experience of spending time with Peter for three days while he was in Crawfordsville. I have to admit, the notion of having an emotional connection to my community never occurred to me prior to meeting Peter and reading his two books. I have always used emotional phrases when referencing the place I live, but it never really occurred to me there was a working relationship between me and my community. Sure, we all get frustrated about something every now and then, but there are plenty of things we appreciate about our community. I’m reminded of the person who makes their “pros and cons” list trying to determine if they should move forward with that special someone. This process helps highlight the various pros and cons of an individual to give a balanced perspective. Sometimes we can get hung up on a single aspect. The way they smile, slurp their coffee or talk with a heavy accent can be things we can focus on and totally overlook their thoughtfulness, intelligence or personality. Perhaps we could all gain some perspective about our community and make a “pros and cons” list of our own?
After Peter’s visit, I began looking at our community and its members in a different way. I began to look for reactions and demeanors from our fellow citizens as they worked to improve the various areas of our community. I also would observe our community leaders as they worked tirelessly and endured to make the right decisions. Emotions were everywhere. Not that we were in a constant state of drama, but there was a sense of care and concern for something that was bigger themselves. From our elected officials to our humble residents, we all want what is best for our community. I would call that love for where we live.
Just like any relationship you need to acknowledge your feelings to one another. Often we are quick to share those negative or upsetting feelings with someone because we just can’t keep it bottled up. How about we, as citizens of this great community, take time to send a Valentine to our community leaders to let them know how much they are appreciated? Show some love to your community this Valentine’s Day in addition to that special someone in your life.
Rick Hernandez is the Executive Director of the Crawfordsville / Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. His column appears on Tuesdays in The Paper of Montgomery County.