At your service: October 19, 2011

Over the weekend, thousands protested and hundreds were arrested as part of the initiative referred to as Occupy Wall Street (and several other locations around the country.) The movement is rooted in the frustrations arising from the on-going effects of the recession. Much like the Tea Party movement, it is populated by people whose resources have been diminished by the economic downturn and whose fears are that the downward spiral is not going to stop. The difference between the two movements is who they blame for the inequity.

For almost a century as the economy expanded more than it contracted, more and more people have been moving up out of poverty and into the middle class. Succeeding generations of Americans came to believe ourselves entitled to being better off than our parents who were better off than their parents. Most worked very hard earning the privilege. Then the recession pulled out the carpet and we all fell backward.

Whether you believe that the big banks and corporations, government, wealthy few or men from Mars are at fault, playing the blame game is a loser’s folly. What is clear is that no one group has “The Fix” for the problem that is actually a worldwide concern. What we need are some fresh ideas – and we must work together in new ways to find those.

Most of us are too busy making ends meet to stop and think about how to fix the economy. Yet, there is a small fix underway within this community.

Organization support
In the aftermath of the flooding and with the support of FEMA and other federal funds, the MARK Project, the CWC and others, there are more people working real jobs than there have been in a very long time. Some jobs are to rebuild homes and business properties that will be of greater value when the repairs are complete. Those working these jobs are having an easier time putting food on the table. Even those who suffered the severest losses are moving forward to rebuild and find new ways to use land that was once viable real estate.

I am not just putting a positive spin on a horrible situation; I am pointing to what happens when people are confronted with a true crisis. We pull together, come up with new ideas and make things work. It is already happening here. The creativity that is coursing through the veins of this community is an incredible resource and now is the time to tap it.

This area is uniquely positioned to make changes that positively impact its future. Each small business that is able to add one person to their payroll potentially generates more than five other jobs in the community. It is the ideal time for artisans to expand their businesses and become small manufacturers, creating other long-term jobs. This would also serve to provide unique products for local retailers and increase the area’s attraction as a tourism destination. Each small difference adds to the whole to strengthen the local economy permanently.

The results that Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party seek can be realized here as government funding spent wisely to restore the infrastructure, build up small businesses and transform a flagging local economy into a viable one.