Sunday, June 8, 2008

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

"Once upon a time, there was a community nestled against the foothills of the mountains of northeastern Alabama.

The community had a long and varied history.

It had music and art. It had hiking and biking trails.

What it didn't have was a lot of high-paying jobs.

It used to have Industry. But then times changed, and the foundries and mills and factories shut down and moved to a place called Out Source."

So begins my editorial series, published in today's Anniston Star.

What you won't see reading it online is the layout. Full front page of the Insight section -- wow! Pardon me for a moment while I turn a cartwheel or two -- figuratively speaking, of course.

This wasn't just an assignment to me. As I've spent the greater part of a year here, I've heard wistfulness in people's voices ... a yearning that Anniston, and many of its surrounding communities, could somehow regain its former "Model City" status. I've heard more about the area's problems than its potential.

That's not to say there aren't problems. But every community, every person, has problems. You can let them consume your life, or you can develop your assets and trust that the problems get resolved in the process. Mostly they do.

Calhoun County, with Anniston as its heart, has so many assets on which to draw. Maybe they've just been taken for granted -- like heirloom silver service being used for everyday breakfast but never being polished up and used to serve company. Maybe my outsider's eyes will help this area see that "what might be" might be even better than what once was.

I thought of this as my gift to a community about which I've grown to care a great deal. They've helped me make a home away from home, and I'm grateful.

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