What should Borderland’s common story about itself be?
Do we tell visitors who ask about the community about our crumbling roads, our declining population, and our vacant stores?
Or instead, do we talk about our generous residents and businesses always ready to assist one another in times of need, our pride in the unique natural resources here, our community college, and the many unique community festivals we offer to our residents and visitors, among the many things that have drawn and kept many of us here?
Yes, people, we all have a responsibility to choose our words carefully and deliberately when talking about the place we have decided to call home.
Like former Duluth Mayor Don Ness said Wednesday, we all have a right to grumble about these community frustrations, but when they become the focus of a conversation and are shared in person, or via social media, they can push us down a path we may not intend.
The feelings of the residents about the community are contagious. Take a look at a Facebook post critical of something or someone. Often, others jump in like piranha ripping and tearing the issue or person apart until nothing good can be said as others may fear the same treatment.
There are few among us that can’t identify ourselves at times among what Ness described as the naysayers, the ‘I told you it wouldn’t succeed’ commenters, the ingrained cynics, the martyrs who define themselves and their community in negative terms.
Instead, Ness encouraged people to be brave, look for and stand up for the positives, say it ain’t always so and it doesn’t have to be ugly, even if it’s the truth.
By focusing on the community’s flaws in a negative way, we accomplish nothing. No one believes we should all put on rose colored glasses and pretend there are no negatives here. But when we see a flaw, look for a solution and implement it, we can take pride in our accomplishments as we move forward toward the next solution.
We, too, urge people to correct the flaws, focus on positive solutions and create a truthful, yet optimistic story we can tell about this place we call home.