Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wish List for the Future

Today I had the privilege to engage in a community visioning process for my hometown.  This process was designed to encourage us to think "big picture" while creating realistic action steps to improve, revitalize, energize and move forward our community.

A big topic of the conversation today and throughout the past several months was, "How do we encourage young people and their families to move to our community?"  "What are the things that young families are looking for?"  The first time I was asked this question I was so shocked that I know I gave a very generalized answer like "good schools" or "recreational opportunities" but today I was prepared.  With 53 different suggestions regarding what might attract or retain a young family to the area. 

It caused me to think about what I appreciate and value in my life, and how that has changed over the past 18 months.  Three years ago, the lack of recreational or educational enhancement opportunities for kiddos birth-age 5 didn't really bother me.  Today, that is priority one.  I have a busy, active, developing toddler who needs positive stimulation for his mental and physical well-being.  I know that my mom does a fantastic job with him during the day, and his vocabulary, understanding, and certainly athletic ability and coordination improves every day.  But there are times that I wonder, can I be doing more?  Is there something missing that he would enjoy and that might give him stimulation in a new way?

And what about our trail systems?  When Jett is old enough to ride his bike, would I be comfortable sending him to the park or a friend's house using the current trails and sidewalks that exist today?  (It's actually comical to think I would send him off by himself, because I will be "that mother" stealthily trailing him each block in the minivan.)

And what about education?  I want Jett to have instructors and an educational system that is aware of the changing needs in the world in which we live and is striving to be adaptive and relevant for the future.  He should be exposed to foreign languages beyond my Spanglish and Sesame Street's best efforts.  He should have access to the arts, to literature, to strong foundations in math and history, and hands on learning experiences in science, technology, and engineering. 

I want our neighborhoods to remain safe with quality housing opportunities available to those who are striving to pursue the ideal of the "American Dream."  And selfishly I would really like to be able to buy a pair of black women's pants locally, and perhaps have more than two choices of where to go out to supper with my family at a mid-range restaurant.

My list was long, very long, and it grows the more that I think about it.  I'm lucky that I participated in a group of incredibly smart and dedicated community members who also had really, really long lists! 

We are no where near completion yet, but we are moving forward.  I feel very fortunate to be asked what my opinion is, and what it is that I want for our community.  But it caused me to wonder, what are the priorities of other young families?  What is on your "wish list" for the community?

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