Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 29, 2012

MARK MAYNARD: Future in our own hands

ASHLAND — I like to think I’m more of half-full kind of person. While positive thinking isn’t the only way to solve problems, it sure beats looking at ideas from the doomsayer’s point of view

Instead of looking at what’s wrong with our communities, how about looking at what’s right with them?

Included in Friday’s newspaper will be our annual Progress edition, our biggest special section of the year and one that has been a consistent winner in the Kentucky Press Association awards competition.

This year’s theme was “Hope for Main Street” and it explores many of our area’s downtowns and how, contrary to popular opinion, they aren’t completely dead. As a matter of fact, there’s a lot of life and good things happening almost everywhere.

Many of the stories profile how downtown areas have changed over the years. That’s a theme that’s carried throughout the section. Fixing it doesn’t happen with the wave of a magic wand but through people who aren’t afraid to take a chance, people who believe in their hometowns, people who stare down apathy and win.

Our communities are no better than the people and leadership in them. If we want to take that “There’s no hope for us attitude,” well, then that’s what will happen. It takes courage to enact change in anything, be it riding the twisting wave of direction in newspapers to deciding how our downtowns can become the vibrant places of yesterday.

I’m not saying turn back the clock completely but, just as local newspapers need to consider what we did best 50 years ago, maybe that same approach can be taken with Main Street transformations. We need to take advantage of our own history and, mostly, our own people — the most precious resource at our disposal. We won’t do that by looking at each other in meetings afraid to do something that will rattle the status-quo. Doing something — anything really — is better than sitting on your hands. We have to move our agenda forward. Standing pat is no longer the best option.

Our community leaders need to lead in a more affirmative direction. They need to lead with the community’s best interests at heart. How can you make this a better place? After all, a community is no better than the people who live and work in it — and no better than those who govern it.

If our governmental leaders aren’t doing the job, be it on the local, state or national level, then work to vote them out. That’s our constitutional right that we seem to forget.

Locally, we need to stop buying into what we’re being force-fed about how we’re a depressed area and one of America’s “worst places” to live. That’s a bunch of baloney that comes from a lot of people who (1) have never been here and (2) have no idea the vast resources at our fingertips.

Let’s start defending ourselves instead of feeling sorry for ourselves. Start looking at what’s right with our communities and capitalize on it.

If you’re looking for ideas on what I’m talking about, take the time to go through “Hope for Main Street” in tomorrow’s newspaper. You’ll be inspired by the people and places that make this area one of the best places to live. I know I was.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

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