Re-evaluate development, but stay in the arena

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Posted 12/08/15 (Tue)

Passing Dreams
By Steve Andrist

Everyone is busy.
That’s life.
Ask anyone, and you’ll find out how busy they are.
But busy people find time to do the things they find important and necessary.
It follows, then, that when the local paper reports “no one has the time” to oversee what’s happening with economic and community development, what it really means is that economic and community development isn’t important enough for people to take the time to make it work.
So is it or isn’t it?
That’s the first question that community leaders should answer as they re-evaluate their commitment to economic and community development.
Perhaps, in the wake of an economic boom, it’s natural for community leaders to question the direction of a public effort to strengthen local economies.
Tioga and Crosby are among the communities that are talking about taking a step back to re-evaluate the direction of their efforts.
It’s a proper and necessary thing to do.
Communities spend a lot of money, after all, employing people and operating programs intended to achieve development.
So it’s constructive to think about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, how it could be done better, or whether it should be done at all.
To be clear though, such re-evaluation must be driven by what the community wants to accomplish, not by what it’s too busy for.
And it would be a sad day if the conclusion is that no one has time to plan the future of their community and work for the achievement of that plan.
It doesn’t have to be traditional economic or community development. By all means, there is value to thinking outside the box and developing a blueprint unique to the community.
But it has to be something.
If you were to paint a picture of your perfect home community, what would it look like?
If you were to identify things that you dislike about your community, how would you fix them?
Are things good enough, because, after all, it’s just a small, rural community? Or do the people of your small, rural community deserve to live in a place where standards are high 
Teddy Roosevelt is a good role model.
In a 1910 speech titled “Citizenship in a Republic” he articulated the sort of character that is necessary.
First, TR said, it’s not constructive to be a critic who does little more than point out the failings and shortcomings of others.
You have to be “in the arena.”
To strive valiantly.
To strive to do the deeds.
To know great enthusiasms and great devotion.
To spend yourself in a worthy cause.
There is nothing in his speech about not having the time to strive, or do the deeds, or spend yourself in your citizenship.
So please, re-evaluate how to approach economic and community development then set about getting it done.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
-- Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910