There's a woman who lives on US-23 South who spends countless hours every summer caring for the flowers she plants by the road near her mailbox, adding wonderful color to that stretch of US-23. Many mornings I see an employee of a downtown business sweeping the sidewalk in front of the entrance to her place of employment. The other day I witnessed someone, while walking his dog at the beach, bend down to pick up a stick for the dog, and at the same time pocket a piece of trash that was floating in the water. There is a business owner I've seen digging the weeds out of his sidewalk in front of his business. I often pass people on the sidewalk who I don't know but they give me a big smile and a "hello." From my table at a local restaurant last weekend, I witnessed the hostess passing out local maps to customers, and then I overhead her telling them about the "really awesome museum" in Alpena, and a "very cool store" downtown.
What do all of these people have in common? They all have pride. Some clearly have pride in their property, themselves, or their jobs, but to be doing the things they were doing and saying the things they were saying, there is no doubt they also have pride in their community. During a brand development workshop I recently participated in, the presenter shared a cartoon that showed several horses pulling a wagon. But instead of the horses marching in a straight line in the same direction, they were all going different directions. The next photo showed the horses how you might have envisioned them in the first place - all in a nice straight line moving in the same forward direction. I'm sure you can figure out the point, but have you ever applied that concept to the bigger picture of how we can impact the direction of our community?
Community pride works much like the point illustrated by the cartoon. When we have pride in our community, we are inclined to show it through positive actions, words, and appearance. If we all showed pride in our community more often through our actions and words, imagine the outcome. Pride also comes with a level of ownership. One definition of pride, according to dictionary.com, is the "pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself." Given that definition, how can we not take pride in our community? It belongs to, and is a reflection of each of us. We need to work together in the same direction to continue to improve it. And one simple way to do that is to continue to show our pride through our positive actions, words, and care for our properties.
There are many people in the area who have and show pride in our community, but do we all show it as often as we can? Do we regularly give others the impression that we have pride in our community? Do we project our pride to others, saying hello and smiling at each other as we pass on the sidewalk or in a store? Do we regularly tell others how much we enjoy living in our community?
What are the things about your community that make you want to show your community pride? For me, there are many things. I appreciate our impressive bike and trails system. I am proud that we are the home of the only freshwater national marine sanctuary. I love to tell people that we not only have a great lake to enjoy, but we also have beautiful inland lakes and rivers. Some people have to drive hours to experience an adventure on the water. What things are on your list?
Maybe I brag a little bit sometimes about everything I'm proud of here, but I wish more of us would. When we all find ways to show our pride in our community, then we are lined up and moving in the same direction. The outcome of that is so powerful it can't help but influence the mood and experiences of others in our community, moving us all forward together to a very positive place.
Jackie Krawczak is the executive director of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs biweekly on Tuesday.