By L&T Publisher Earl Watt
Mayor Dave Harrison and I don’t see eye to eye on almost anything. But there is one area where he and I agree — developing community pride.
Harrison said during the last election cycle that he wanted to develop more community pride.
He is right.
A community with a strong sense of pride usually has strong cooperation between its various governing and volunteer boards.
There is a willingness to provide community service, whether it is as simple as picking up trash along streets and highways or serving on a board.
There is more to it than simply showing up for the photo op. Community pride goes a little deeper.
Taking pride in a community means we have to go above and beyond an average level of commitment to our city and set a higher standard.
Splitting hairs over the definition of a street or alley-way, for example, doesn’t exhibit the high standard needed to improve our community. If something needs to be enhanced, those with community pride find a way to make it happen.
There are times when we may be too close to the forest to see the trees, and it is good to get an outside perspective from time to time, both us looking at other communities and having other communities look at us.
I have spoken with several out-of-town visitors recently, and they mention how clean Liberal is.
I take great pride in hearing those comments, even though some of our own believe the town is not as clean as it could be.
Sure, we can always do better, but let’s take some pride in how clean we are, and let’s pat those on the back that are charged with community beautification. We will strive for better, of course, but we are getting the job done here.
Liberal has proven several times that it is willing to invest in itself, which is another strong sign of community pride.
The 1-cent sales tax helps fund projects above and beyond the day-to-day operations of the city, and the most recent passage of the tax was supported by 82 percent of the voters.
Clearly, there is a collective effort to support issues that foster community pride beyond the lowest standard.
Liberal was one of the first communities to pass a 1-cent sales tax for such a purpose.
It shows that Liberal doesn’t mind being the first to try something different if it is in the best interest of the community.
That is another sign of community pride.
When we think of community pride, it is not simply expecting our hired city staff to be miracle workers, trying to accomplish the work of three or four people per person.
We have to be willing to roll up our sleeves and help.
Community pride extends beyond the walls of city hall. It includes our clubs, organizations, athletic teams, our schools, our county and our college.
Community pride is just that — community-wide.
When we are all committed to improvement, we stop bickering about the small details. We understand that Topeka and Washington, D.C. aren’t going to make Liberal better. Only we can do it, and we do it by focusing on our hometown pride.
I have heard some use the argument that there are differences between what we need and what we want.
But those with community pride don’t ask that question.
Community pride forces us to ask, “Do we want to be mediocre or exceptional?”
We all have to function within budgets of course, but the decision to have community pride is not trapped between the options of spending nothing or something, where something is always too much.
Community pride is not jut a slogan. Sure, it sounds good, but it is probably the hardest goal a community could accept.
I support Mayor Harrison’s commitment to community pride. As this commission continues to face issues that will be a choice between exhibiting community pride or suppressing it, I want to remind them that no one will ever exhibit more community pride than they. We elected them. We gave them authority to set the standard for the rest of us as to what community pride will truly mean.
Let’s encourage them to set the bar high.