|Sat, Mar 15, 2014 10:58 AM
February 26, 2014 | 10:31 AM
Picture this if you will: two 80-year-old folks attending a country music concert with thousands of "kids" ages 20 to 35.
No, this is not a set up to tell a joke. It is a description of my recent introduction to the world of music and tomorrow's leaders. During it all, I found I had a lot to learn; I couldn't even understand a word of the music.
When we came home after the concert, I asked my 19-year-old granddaughter, Demi, to explain what we had experienced. She guessed rightly that we of the hearing-aid generation had previously known nothing of the music or the artists who performed it.
My husband, Don, and I had accepted the tickets to the concert because they were given to us at no cost and were accompanied by a parking pass. For the most part, everyone else bought tickets because they had heard the music on YouTube, twitter and the radio; they liked the sound, knew the lyrics and followed the bands. It only took the introductory cord to each number for the audience to stand up and started singing the lyrics. They didn't need to hear the words; they already knew them. The show was like a huge songfest for them.
During our conversation, Demi explained that her age group depends on their smartphones to deliver instant information and provide a connection to everything. Not only was this technology unavailable in the world when I was a new homeowner, but the language used to explain it was as unfamiliar to me as the country music lyrics at the concert.
Young people of today's generation are establishing consumer trends, setting up families and filling jobs in our communities. They are key players in figuring out where our county wants to go in the years to come. Their expectations are different than those of their parents or grandparents. We need to have input from them.
When I think about long-term planning for our county, I increasingly become aware that we must widen the circle of who is involved.
A couple of weeks ago in this column, we asked that you imagine your future and what you wanted your community to provide you with. We asked that you e-mail your ideas to me and Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I fear that the words I used to invite your participation were as foreign to you as the country music concert vocals were to me. My request may have sounded as enticing as watching C-span would be to most of us. But without the participation of everyone — no matter our age, background or present situation — we are directing our thinking as though we can't hear, see or understand the world as it really is.
Who are we as a citizenry anyway? What do you want your town to be like in the future if you have always known the high-tech, fast-changing world of today? What do you need and hope for if you grew up with only three channels on your TV and no cable connections? How do you expect to fit into the community as you age? What are the basic ingredients that a community must have for you to want to live in it? What are the quality-of-life amenities that would be attractive to you?
I suspect we might find some surprising similarities across the age and socio-economic spectrum, a good starting place for planning. We also might learn of unexpected differing ideas about priorities, opportunities and needs in the future.
Our leadership in the past has done a marvelous job of shaping our county into a place where we want to live. All kinds of people took responsibility for making positive things happen.
What will our county be like in the future as a result of today's changes? If we want it to suit us, then we better make sure we help fashion and shape it. We can drive the agenda rather than just accept whatever happens to come our way. This will take communal discussion, decision making and action.
I don't know the best way to start a process of total community involvement in visioning for our future, but I do know we must start now and we must include as many people as we can. The call for comments is just such a beginning. Maybe your comments should be ideas about how to start the ball rolling. This could be fun. We can learn to understand the world beyond our own lives enough to appreciate others, establish useful institutions and create an environment that is conducive to prosperity and peace.
We need your input. Please send you ideas for the future of Harrison County and a route we might take to get there.