So the challenge was: What matters to me? The quick answer is a number of things. However, the challenge came with a staccato requirement: "I. Want. Heart. And. Soul." When put that way, it cuts it down quite a bit because as I told her, I'm a soulless creature with a rutabaga for a heart. Sure, it was a joke, but when you have to develop a skin the texture of shoe leather you learn to detach emotion from several things.
What matters to me is Alpena. This is my hometown and I want to make it a better place to live, not just for me but everyone. I wish more people felt that way.
There are plenty of people who do, but there are many narrow-minded people who keep us from having the great city we should have and deserve. Don't believe me? Just find the forum sites online and look at the trolls masquerading as (made up names): BigTool4U, basslover12345, IhateU49707, etc. They aren't detractors, they are the kind of people Randy Newman wrote about in the song "Short People":
"They got little hands
They walk around
Tellin' great big lies
They got little noses
And tiny little teeth
They wear platform shoes
On their nasty little feet"
These people take our town and drag it through the mud because they are small-minded, disinterested people who would rather have their hand out than extend one to help.
There was a time when I first moved here I wasn't interested in living here the rest of my life, but I didn't bad-mouth it. I just didn't think it was for me. I still may leave for the right opportunity - whatever that might be - but it will forever be my hometown. I was born here but didn't move here until as a young adult, and I have spent most of my adult life here.
This town is filled with interesting and caring people who take great pleasure and pride in living here. But the truth is we need more of those people here. We don't need thousands upon thousands more, but we could use several hundred people who will love our community the same way many of us love it.
We are engaged in the process and want the best schools, health care, recreation, etc., that we can possibly have. We want our neighbors to be happy living here and we want others to want to live here and be envious of the place we call home.
I want people to talk about Alpena with a smile on their face when they think about the time they came here on business, or when they vacationed here. I want businesses to seek Alpena as a place to build or open an office or to expand.
I want people who want to move here because of the great quality of life we have. I want them to desire us with lust in their heart for a better life, knowing we could provide it.
I want the Center of Excellence designation so the county could land the drone project, and the other businesses that would be associated with it. I want other businesses that have had an eye on our little corner of the world to come here, employ people and know they made a sound investment in Alpena.
I want more people to get involved in our community, helping those who need it. The more economic improvement we have, the hope is the fewer people we would have who would need our help. But I want more people to help their neighbors.
I want the people who moved away for other work but yearn to be able to move back to a job have that opportunity. They know what our city has to offer and long to come home.
Alpena is a community on the rebound, you just have to block out the trolls who wouldn't know what was really going on in this community. I want people who aren't just bandwagon jumpers who will get off at the first sign of bumpy road. I want people who are working toward the solution, not part of the problem.
Alpena is my hometown and it matters, not just to me but to thousands of others. I hope you are with us because if you aren't then you are missing out. You are part of the problem, not part of the solution. You need to change teams.
Are you with me?