Editorial: Pick up that flag
Eight times per year, the Craig Rotary Club gathers a volunteer crew and spends about an hour lining Victory Way — from Veterans Hall to Village Inn — with American flags. Flags are meant to fly, but, inevitably, and despite being anchored in buckets that weigh about 60 pounds each, when the wind blows, some of the flags topple over. A flag on the ground, like other problems in our community, generally generates one of three responses: action, outrage or apathy. Each has a ripple effect, impacting our community in positive or negative ways.
The outraged complain.
The sagebrush telegraph — an expression used to describe the speed information and misinformation spreads through our community — has been supercharged by our adoption of social media. This can be a very powerful tool, but it can also be damaging. In the past, our elders might have recommended thinking before we spoke; these days, it’s important to pause before we post, setting loose sentiments that could very well become viral.
While we support and respect free speech, it’s also important to be mindful that social media has become public space. If we wouldn’t share something in a public meeting, it might be best not to put it out there for everyone to read, like, share and repeat.
We think this is especially important advice for community leaders, offering them an opportunity to step-up and be role models for the rest of us.
When leaders go on negative rants, it only creates more negativity for a community trying to rise above it. It also reflects poorly on the organizations they represent.
We are not trying to deny that the community has challenges. To ignore problems is to be like the apathetic, who ignore the flags on the ground. Instead, we encourage words and deeds that take action.
Those people who take action interrupt their busy lives to stop and lift the flag back into place. It doesn’t always last — flags fall over in the next gust of wind, but a few people will repeat the process as many times as it takes to help keep the flags flying.
Our community is blessed to have persistent problem solvers who are willing to tackle a number of challenges. For example, the Build a Pool committee was formed in reaction to news of the closure of the Moffat County High School pool. In the past, threats of pool closure have resulted in a lot of talk; this time, citizens are taking action and have already raised more than $25,000 in pledged support.
For another group of citizens, the trashy look and hazards created by the yard sale signs posted on boxes at “cardboard corner” — the southwest side of the old Safeway Parking lot at the corner of West Victory Way and Finley Lane — was a problem. It took time. It took creativity. It took partnerships. But now, the community has a purpose-built sign for yard sales.
As we face challenging times it’s more important than ever to be positive about our community. It’s also important to change our mindset from pointing out problems to figuring out solutions.
Another old-fashioned saying comes to mind: Don’t make a bad situation worse. Let’s try to build our community up, not tear it down.
We need as much positive light as we can shed, and research shows that emotions are contagious. Researchers Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler discovered that happiness spreads through social networks, much like a virus, which means you can be infected with the happiness of someone you’ve never even met, and vice versa.
Let’s bring this closer to home; our kids not taking pride in the community. Why would they when we, as adults, aren’t providing the example? They hear our complaints, they see our apathy and they mirror that behavior.
We encourage the community to pick up the flag. Participate: vote, volunteer, talk with people about what’s really going on, discuss grievances and become partners for change.
A year ago, event funding for Whittle the Wood was at risk, and participation had leveled. The event needed a shot in the arm, and last weekend’s enormously successful festival served as proof that Craig remains a vital, active community.
Another example is the Northwest Chapter of the Parrotheads flower pot sales. The flowers beautify the city, money raised provides scholarships and both benefits come at no cost to taxpayers.
Earlier this week, the college board decided to tap into reserves to fund college programs and provide free tuition for Moffat County residents. Dipping so deeply into reserves has its risks, but the tuition buy down should spur growth. Even more encouraging are the steps college President Ron Granger and the local college district board are making to work together.
In each of these examples, citizens are picking up the flag to better the community. Finding solutions often takes more effort than finding fault, but finding solutions is usually more rewarding.
When we find a problem, let’s fix a problem.
In other words, let’s pick up that flag.
In Craig and Moffat County, we love America. We love its ideals of free market capitalism and
self-sufficiency, of resilience, of sacrifice and compassion for the downtrodden.