PUBLISHER'S NOTEBOOK: 'Friendly' communities
don't just exist, they're created
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 5:18 AM
Someone active in the community was telling a story recently about how a relative newcomer was complaining that it was so unfriendly here. I'm not mentioning names or places because, well, it doesn't really matter since this is more about perception than reality.
This local person happened to cross paths with the other person, and she did her best to make her feel welcome, but all the newcomer wanted to do was talk about how unfriendly it was here and how people didn't partake in the same customs she was used to doing.
The local person tried to explain how that wasn't the case, that the community is full of caring and supportive people who go out of their way to make people feel at home.
The newcomer countered with the question "I bet you have lived here all your life?"
The local person said that yes, she was born and raised here, but noted how many people have moved into the city and found it welcoming.
When the discussion turned to where this newcomer lived, the discovery was made that she wasn't really new at all, but had lived here several years. In that time, the local person had never seen her at any community activity or even on the street - at least as far as she knew and this is someone who keeps abreast of the community and its people.
Although she didn't make much headway, the local person asked the not-so-new newcomer for her phone number and promised her she would be making a visit soon. Somehow, I don't think she is going to change her mind about the community.
That exchange reminded me of another story, this one illustrative rather than real, that I heard about two new residents who visited the post office within a couple days to change their address to their new location just a couple houses apart in the same neighborhood.
The first one came in, filled out the card and asked the postmaster what type of neighborhood he was moving into. The postmaster asked him what his previous neighborhood was like.
The new resident said it was very unfriendly with a lot of grumpy people that keep to themselves and don't care about their neighbors.
The postmaster told him that, unfortunately, the new neighborhood is going to be much like that one he just left.
The next day the second new resident stopped in to get his mail delivery started. He asked the postmaster the same question.
Again, the postmaster asked him what his old neighborhood was like. He said it was a very caring and friendly place with neighbors visiting each other regularly. The postmaster replied that he will be pleased to know his new neighborhood is going to be just like the one he left.
One year later, I bet most people in the community will know the second resident as he becomes involved in the local activities and meets local people.
And, one year later, I bet many will be surprised to find the first resident had ever moved here as he keeps to himself, complains to the few people he crosses paths with and wonders why the community is so unfriendly.
A friendly community doesn't just happen. It takes people to make it so. More importantly, in a way, you create your own world. If it disappoints, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Now, some of you may wonder if I have used this postmaster tale before. It seems like I have, but, having written more than 1,000 columns in my years as publisher, I'm not completely sure.
I suppose some of you are going to be reading this, thinking - that idiot publisher, he must be losing his mind as he is repeating himself.
Others, if they also remember, may think to themselves that they are glad he brought this up again because it is a good tale that illustrates a point we often forget about.
I could go either way, depending on the day. After all, my world isn't always bright and beautiful. At least I can remind myself of the reason why that is so and try to change my outlook before I become one of those complainers that must always live in a miserable world no matter where home happens to be located.