Sue's Views: Can we tempt young people to stay?
From the time I was 5 until I was 11 years old, my sister and I shared a bedroom. There was one, full-sized bed with a fuzzy sticker directly in the middle of the headboard. That was meant to settle the 'whose half you're on' battles in the middle of the night without having to turn on the light and get Mom involved. We originally were going to sew something onto the mattress, but Mom caught wind of that brilliant idea and put the kibosh on it.
My sister and I had little in common. I had Shaun Cassidy posters on my walls while she was past that stage in her life. I had a collection of stuffed animals, including a ratty stuffed donkey that I had won from a department store in town. She was pretty sparse in her decorations for the room. Plus, she was pretty good at hiding her clothes so I couldn't wear them.
Every day when I woke up, I prayed that today would be the day I get a room to myself. I swore that when I got to choose, I would not live within three states of my sister.
I am now significantly older and for the past 15 years, have lived within three blocks of my sister. And I kinda like it. Three blocks is plenty of room and close enough all at the same time.
What do you know, I have different tastes and priorities now than when I was 11.
I'm thinking about this as I watch the U-Hauls and trailers of all sizes back up to rental houses throughout Morris this week, loading up the college students to take their next adventure.
I wonder where those bright young people are going and whether they will ever consider moving back to Morris.
Later in the day, as I get the mail, I think again about who will be living in Morris in another ten years. You see, every day brings a mailbox full of information from colleges across the nation, hoping my son will decide his future starts with them.
So far, he has many ideas of what he'd like to do after high school but hasn't really settled on a course of action. But he does know that he wants to get out of Morris.
Will he consider moving back when he gets whatever degree he finally decides on? As his mother, it's hard to predict. I'm much more concerned presently with making sure he can take care of himself wherever he goes. And yes, son, learning to fold a fitted sheet is one of the skills I consider essential.
But the question remains, can we as a rural community tempt any of the young people who are graduating this spring to think of Morris as the place they will live and work as adults?
There was a meeting recently to look at the challenges Morris is facing and this loss of young people was discussed. One of the suggestions was for local businesses to focus on the valedictorians and provide financial assistance for their education as an incentive for them to return to Morris when they've finished school.
That is a very workable solution, but the challenge is that there is usually only one valedictorian each year. We're going to need a few more young adults than that to see any significant change.
The good news for Morris is that we have 300 young adults getting their Bachelor of Arts degrees today, largely without our help.
How many of them might like to live and work in Morris? Have we asked them?