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Finding a sense of community

Finding a sense of community
Finding a sense of community
Judy O'Bannon

Who knows what contributed to the over-the-top attendance at the outdoor arts fair in Indianapolis on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. There have been so many impactive conditions bombarding we humans during the last year. But today, Sept. 11, 2001, was tops in our memory as we set out to share a balmy, sun-shiny day.

I was fiddling on my cell phone at 8:46 a.m. this past Saturday when the sobering announcement popped up on my screen: “Twenty years ago today at this hour the twin towers in New York City were hit by terrorists.” The news caused a repeat of that first shock and disbelief I felt 20 years ago. The time since has brought to light the severity of such terror and the consequences to our lives forever.

Our sense of security concerns in a changing world is still uppermost in our daily routines and long-range planning. Perhaps it was the sense that we were as a nation still rigorous and alive after suffering such pain and threat that led to the outpouring of people to an outdoor art fair on Sept. 11, 2021.

Or, perhaps it was the yearning to be out and about seeing and doing with other people after months of withdrawing into the safety of our homes during a viral pandemic that made folks want to stroll through outdoor tents displaying creative works of art.

It probably was a combination of factors that drew an unprecedented crowd to the grounds of the Indianapolis Art Museum for this year’s art fair. It was absolutely swamped. Not a new event, this fair started on Sept. 9, 1967, but this massive turnout caught everyone by surprise. The parking by 11 a.m. was overflowing for miles. At noon, with the temperature in the upper 80s, there was no water left for sale and food stands drew lines more than two blocks long. No one seemed to mind the conditions. They appeared just glad to be able to attend this day outside with other humans celebrating creativity amid a daunting world.

The autumn “get out and go” tourist season is here. Our small towns, forests, rivers and lakes, park systems and rolling hills are ideal getaways for all of us. There’s no long trek to the ticketed entrance. We have so much to offer in the way of comfort, convenience and interest.

Let’s look for ways to get the word out to a broad spectrum of people. We don’t want to always rejoice that we are the “best kept secret” in the tourism industry. Let’s brainstorm with other locals to see how we can bundle events together to attract folks from afar. Let’s talk about joint promoting of what different groups have to offer.

We who live in these Southern Indiana hills are not competing with each other for attention. We are showing a bigger world what charms and advantages we have in our area. I am not just talking about seeking day-tripper tourists. I have my eye on encouraging new people to move here and increase our economy, educational opportunities and the social and creative local climate.

Let’s hurdle the handicap that we place on ourselves when we feel we must educate our kids and let them leave our small towns in their search for growth, diversity and opportunity. We have fertile ground right here to provide what the most aggressive and creative person craves for their home.

I was glad to learn that at the Sept. 10 Corydon Town Council meeting parking limits were discussed. Revisiting this issue over the years tells me that our elected officials are aware of what makes a community welcoming and workable. Two-hour parking limits in busy areas, increased fines and leniency with out-of-area license plates seemed like positive solutions to current issues.

What else do we need to revisit as we seek to attract and provide for local residents and visitors? Store hours, park accommodations, food and water accessibility, rest rooms and a welcoming local attitude?

In the near future, there will be more discussions as to funding for the Corydon Main Street program. We need everyone’s ideas on this effective revitalization approach. There is also talk of addressing the opportunity to attract young people with a skateboard park of some sort. How about brainstorming with your friends and then share with a group how we may create opportunities for better outdoor dining in our towns and rural areas?

A team mentality is needed here. We build local capacity in the very act of doing things together to better our hometowns. When we join each other on a project, we forget that we don’t all think alike, act alike or look alike and, instead, sense what we all have in common because we are human and care about the lives we live.

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