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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Village and Township Life and Future

Morning at Peterson Park
The only constant is change. Our village lost a very special person this week with the death of Reverend Marshall Collins. Another long-time Northporter and regular customer of Dog Ears Books, Catherine Caraher, also passed away. Dr. Caraher taught history at the University of Detroit, but I knew her more as an avid reader and devoted dog-lover. One friend commented mournfully, “This is the trouble with living in a small town!” Really? 

In a large city, would we only rub elbows with other anonymous inhabitants and not be affected by their troubles and deaths? Wouldn’t the circle of acquaintance be about the same? There would be more people one did not know, but not everyone would be a stranger, surely. I remember when my father began to complain of the number of funerals he had to attend, and my mother, taking a brighter look, told him that was because they had lived there so long. They had moved from South Dakota to a county seat in northern Illinois in 1951, so of course in 50 years time they had made many friends. What she left out was that they and their friends had all aged 50 years in that same time period! Well, this happens anywhere, town or country, city or village, but I’ll admit that my friend in her sadness had a valid point to make: losing someone in a small village is a proportionately greater loss, due to the size of the population. And wherever you live, no one is a replacement for anyone else, but life goes on, so to whom will the torches pass?

Ashes to ashes: new ash tree sprouts in old tree's place

Village of Northport (incorporated), village of Omena (unincorporated), Township of Leelanau. Northport has come a lot way up from the Slough of Despond it was in six years ago. New energy is palpable and manifest all over town—new businesses (many made possible by new sewer system), improvements to buildings, new marina facilities, hiking trails, flowers, etc. Where do we want to go from here? What are the community’s priorities?

Looking for excitement? Make it happen!
To those who look at the postcard and poster for a Community Engagement Workshop and say, “Been there, done that,” I want to urge second thoughts. Yes, we had a series of meetings in 2007. Since then, a lot has been accomplished in Northport, Omena, and Leelanau Township. The question is, where do we want to go from here? You would not go into business with a plan carved on stone and never revisit the plan. You would not get married and set up a budget and never look at it again to see where changes in family life indicated new priorities. Yes, we’ve been through something like this before, but it’s time to do it again. It could even be fun! Come find out on Wednesday evening—7:30, small gym up at school. Bring your ideas and prepare to roll up your sleeves.

And before tomorrow night is tonight, with poet Teresa Scollin at the Leelanau Township Library in Northport. Don't miss this event, either. 

Volunteers created and maintain the gorgeous library garden


P. J. Grath said...

Sorry my formatting is so goofy today. I've gone back and edited half a dozen times and am now throwing up my hands and letting it stand as it is.

Deborah said...

Personally, I don't care about formatting issues because I read for content. Regarding the opportunity to consider the future for Northport, if I lived thre (and wish I did live there)I'd definitely attend that meeting. Great opportunity to listen to other views as well as express my own.

P. J. Grath said...

I appreciate your reading for content, Deborah. To me, good formatting and proof-reading help keep readers focused on content, while glitches distract. Also, the visual appearance is important to me, and I don't like the way the blog looks today--but, oh, well!

You would be a good participant, ready to express your views and listen to others. I hope we get lots of people like you at the meeting.

Dawn said...

Sometimes the blog gnomes just take over and it's out of your control. I also would like to live in I wish you all well in your team building and community growing! Love the library garden too!

Dawn said...

Just went and read both obituaries. Lovely, interesting people, both of them. You might never have met them in a larger community, and your lives would have been less full without knowing them.

P. J. Grath said...

Thanks for understanding about the formatting, Dawn. Thank you as well for taking the trouble to look up and read the obituaries when I neglected to post links to them. Yes, that's how I feel--that the sadness of the loss is greatly outweighed by the pleasure and honor of having known these people.

If all of you had been in Northport tonight (Tuesday), you could have heard poet Teresa Scollon read at the library, and that was indeed a pleasure and an honor, too. If I tried to describe the response of the audience, we would run out of superlatives. I hope to entice her to visit Dog Ears Books before the year is out.

Anonymous said...

I am moved that you care so deeply about your community. I find that, working in the public school system in Springfield, there are many who choose to ignore our community and not address the problems we face. Any community, if it is to surivive, must constantly re-evaluate itself and make changes accordingly. Northport will be fine so long as there are caring people living in it. Good luck and sorry for your loss.

P. J. Grath said...

Thanks for the condolences, Matthew. As for community involvement, it is often difficult and fraught with conflict, and I do NOT take to it like a duck to water. This morning, in fact, my enthusiasm is tempered with disappointment due to a poison pen e-mail casting consensus-building as conspiracy, calling it a process to override and subvert democracy, silencing minority voices. I don't see it that way at all. What alternative do we have to consensus-building, other than adversarial wrangling and stalemate? Or (talk about silencing minority voices!) saying simply that the "majority rules," and to hell with the others, even if they are 49%. Ah, well. Sometimes even "good people" are fearful. The point of the workshop is for everyone to have a chance to put their priorities on the table and for everyone to listen to everyone else, and if this isn't democracy in action, I'm a monkey's uncle.

Dawn said...

You could argue about everything and accomplish nothing, similar to Detroit...or you can work together to find some common ground and do the best you can for the whole.

P. J. Grath said...

Thursday a.m. I am happy to report an excellent turnout for the meeting last night and overwhelmingly positive energy and ideas. Northport, Omena, and Leelanau Township come together again!