For the past three months, the Morris Sun Tribune has been working to explain what Stevens FORWARD! is and how you can get involved.
Throughout this series of stories, we've also tried to tell you why this is an important effort. Sometimes that's an easy task. Honestly, how hard is it to figure out that increasing our commercial and retail sales is good for all of us? Or that an increase in enrollment at UMM means more folks in the area to shop, further helping us along in the revitalization efforts.
Sometimes, the ideas are a bit less concrete. I have to admit, I'm still pondering the destiny driver that says we "will have established an inclusive culture that embraces a diversity of people in our population and encourages their uniqueness to flourish and enhance our community."
And that just begs the question, why are we doing this?
Well, for me, it comes down to whether or not you believe there's room for improvement in our little corner of the world.
It's also about building on the successes of the past.
I was visiting with Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Monday. She was at the American Legion to honor the veterans and their families on Memorial Day. But she took the time to visit with nearly every one in the room, discussing everything from the court battle over the recent senate election to guns to green energy initiatives.
It was as she was walking out the door that she said to me, "I just think you all have figured something out here, how to work together to make your resources reach farther."
She was talking specifically about the so-called "research triangle" with the University of Minnesota, Morris, the West Central Research and Outreach Center and the Soils Lab and their combined efforts towards developing renewable energy alternatives.
I spent some time thinking about her comments and how a little community on the wind-swept prairies of western Minnesota could be so lucky to have three such outstanding institutions within shouting distance of each other.
What was in the water during the 1950s and '60s that would help otherwise reasonable community members decide that they could remake an ag high school into a public liberal arts college? Likewise, what possessed the locals to spend the time, energy and financial resources to lobby Congress for a soil conservation research lab? I'm pretty sure there were more than one or two folks thinking it was a pipe dream.
Thank goodness those chasing those opportunities never stopped to listen to the naysayers.
Now, 50 years later, it's time to decide if you're capable of taking up the cause or becoming one of the naysayers.