Let's talk about drugs.
Scratch that. Let's talk about drugs and violence. Better yet, let's talk about drugs, violence, poverty, and then make our way back to drugs again.
From what I gather, this has been the objective of Taking Back Chenango County since the group of concerned community members formed in late December. The group was born of good intention – to eradicate the growing drug epidemic and make the Land of the Bullthistle a little safer and... well, a little more livable. Personally, I have a great deal of respect for anyone who recognizes the issues that plague Chenango County and have the drive to do address those issues head on.
The problem is, talk is cheap. That's not to say it never leads to something bigger; but talk alone doesn't accomplish anything. It's the actions that follow that really change a community. And for that reason, I'm torn when it comes to the effectiveness of community movements like Taking Back Chenango.
Like I said, I admire the people who coordinated the group because of their determination to reshape the community, create opportunities for positive change and, as suggested by the name, take back Chenango. But on the other hand, what good is a movement if the people who say they support it can not or choose not to follow through?
Taking Back Chenango originated as a Facebook page and, as expected from the power of social media, the site quickly garnered hundreds of likes and enough interest for the group to hold its first public meeting at the Chenango County Correctional Facility earlier this month. The meeting brought out nearly 50 concerned residents and even more attended the group's second meeting held last week. On the surface, these numbers show there's an interest in creating change. But when you dig a little deeper, it creates another, more pressing question. Is the number of people who attended those meetings reflective of the number of people who are willing to rise to the challenge?
Of course, it bodes well for our community that people genuinely want positive social change and are willing to speak up. But again, talk only provides a platform from which a transformation can start. It's my feeling that if a community wants to change, the kind of change demanded by Taking Back Chenango, it will not be accomplished by people who attend a meeting so they can go home, pat themselves on the back, and say they're being “proactive.” Admittedly, I didn't make it to either of those meetings; but am I mistaken in saying that most of the people who did attend did so only to draw attention to what we already know, that there's a problem in Chenango County?
I'm sure some people who attended the first few meetings of Taking Back Chenango shared some great ideas, but it’s not fair that those ideas be delegated to someone else. Ideas are useless when they're treated like a football – kicked in the air in hopes someone else will catch it and run with it.
My feeling is if you really want to see something good happen, then get involved. If you have an idea, follow through. Volunteer. Be productive. Be hands on. Attending an occasional meeting is not “hands on” work but instead, amounts to nothing more than cheering from the sidelines.