Keep Calm And Kerri On:‘Watering Can’
Published: July 19th, 2021
By: Sun Columnist Kerri Green

Keep Calm and Kerri On:‘Watering Can’

Dear Friends,

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit with some people who I went to school with during our annual alumni weekend festivities. It was so refreshing to hear from them how much they love visiting the area that they grew up in, and how much they enjoy their time here. Why does it take a visitor to remind us that our communities are special?

There is so much negativity and noise that it can be hard to see the light. It seems no matter what the issue, the first response is to say “Yup, that’s New York for you.” Everyone automatically equates trouble or a problem to the fact that we live in New York State, who our elected representatives are, that there is nothing to do here, no one wants to work, etc. It’s ridiculous and offensive.

Each of us needs to take some responsibility for creating a community that we want to be a part of and a culture that is welcoming and attractive to others.

We don’t always appreciate what we have, and we often think that the grass is greener somewhere else. We are all guilty of it. Who hasn’t looked longingly at where other people live and wonder if life would be better if we lived somewhere else? If we looked closer, I think we would be surprised to learn that even in the most beautiful of places, it’s not perfect.

My cousin Lisa lives down the shore (New Jersey shore for those of you not with the Jersey lingo). She lives minutes from the boardwalk and the beach and I think it’s such an amazing plae to live! Talking to her earlier this week, she was sharing how crowded it is by her right now. She shared that she hates going out, stays far away from the boardwalk and how she’s been staying home more because of the number of people that have flocked to the shore this year.

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Sometimes I listen to her and think “You have 24/7 access to the ocean … what are you complaining about?” But I only visit a couple times a year. I don’t live there and have to deal with the crowds and people every day. I am sure it’s a disrupter and frustrating when seasonally your life changes. It’s kind of like living here during hunting season, and we find ourselves complaining about how packed the grocery stores and restaurants are. Those visiting us love it here, but the “locals” don’t always look at it the same way.

I had a high school social studies teacher, Mr. Abbot. I remember once during the fall we were in class and he was going on and on about the color of the leaves. How beautiful it was during the fall, how people spend thousands of dollars to come and visit our part of the state to see the gorgeous fall colors on our rolling hills. He was doing a lesson on economics, but at the time we all sort of rolled our eyes and thought “yeah, yeah, yeah”. Now as an adult, I get what he was trying to say. We live in a marvelous place; absolutely beautiful (gorgeous year around!) and we take it for granted.

Last week I talked about our tourism program and some of the ways that Commerce Chenango works to promote Chenango County. There’s another part to this that I don’t think people realize, and that’s the impact each of us can have on growing our local economy.

I get calls, email and inquires every week from companies looking to expand their business, start a new business or sometimes developers looking at the Southern Tier and they want to know what Chenango County has to offer. Sure, I share with them available buildings or spaces to build but they always ask me about the community. Are we welcoming? Are we innovative? What is there for families to do? What is the job market like? What is the housing market like? What are our infrastructure needs?

When these companies, individuals and developers are looking at Chenango County, they also look at the local paper and social media. They talk to business owners and community members. They are trying to decide if our area is worth investing in. What is the message that they are getting?

There are many people working each day to make our community a better place to live. They look for positivity, opportunity and try to create a welcoming environment for all.

Unfortunately, it’s the happy people you rarely hear from. Those who have something nasty to say are usually the loudest in the room. We need more people with good stories, positive reflections, and something good to say to be louder than the nay-sayers.

I will be the first to admit I need to not let the curmudgeons of the world get me fired up! They don’t speak for me and they certainly don’t represent the majority of our community.

There’s a lot to celebrate and a lot to be hopeful about. Progress is all around us and things are moving in the right direction. I’ve said it before, progress takes time. There is no magic formula to suddenly fix all the things that need work. But if you take the time to look for it, you will find that we are moving Chenango forward.

Do me a favor. If you can do one thing this week: I want you to think of one thing you love about the community you live in. Then I want you to share it. Tell one person, post it on your social media account, call my office and tell me. One thing that you think makes us unique. One thing that you think those looking at Chenango County for investment should know about.

Before assuming the grass is greener on someone else’s lawn, make sure you have watered your own. If you need a watering can, I will loan you mine.

Be well, Chenango.

~Kerri




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