What does community mean to you? In my opinion it means a place that not only helps each other but supports each other. One big change from Minnesota to North Dakota is a sense of belonging. The community I moved from was truly a community. It was a special place to raise a family, and we all miss it.
There were community activities every week. Things like a farmers market; where a dinner was hosted by a community organization along with music and games for kids. There was rollerblading in the community gym during the winter. School age dances for kids were held. Clothing exchanges, open houses for new businesses, welcoming committees, and community gardens. It truly was a memorable place. I worked for the city while living there and met so many amazing people. The economic development coordinator did and does so much for the community. She encourages and seeks out new business owners, new residents and old and encourages them to have pride in their community.
North Dakota is so different for me. While occasional events are held for the public it becomes a contest of who can show what off. There are no welcoming committees, no encouraging welcome for new businesses, and no welcome for volunteers or emergency personnel. I have lived here over a year and still know very few people. There are not a lot of volunteer opportunities that I am aware of. There are no rollerblading Fridays, no dances for the elementary kids. I get the impression that if you are not born and raised here you are not welcome.
Enough is enough in my book. I am faced with the dilemma of whether to stay or go. I like meeting people and doing new things but have been rebuffed so many times here. I do not know what more to do to get these people to realize that while this is beautiful country, the people leave little to be desired.
I wonder if the towns here will survive for more than another 50 years. What legacy do you want your town to have? I want my grandchildren to be proud of where I lived. Where their parents became adults, where they loved and grew. Change starts with small things I am told. So starting tomorrow I am challenging myself to reach out to one person or business. I will ask them what they like about their community and what they would change. Maybe if enough people start to talk about change it will start a snowball effect.
Cherish what you love, be proud of what you have, and above all hold your head high no matter what.
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