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Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” I don’t know about you, but to me, that is what community is all about – coming together for the good of our town, our county, and our neighbors. That is just one of the things that makes Cameron County a really special place, and the perfect community to live in. Every single one of you is my community. You’re all my neighbors. If you’re anything like me, circa 2016, you have no idea how important your story, ideas, and concerns are to our community. If you only knew how important you are, you would be a force to be reckoned with.
The Cameron County Project’s mission is to encourage residents to be engaged and to build community pride by focusing on what unites us as residents in Cameron County – our stories of why we love it here. I want to create a force of community pride and positivity that is contagious to our neighbors, is warmly welcomed and encouraged to thrive, helping guide decision making in our community. There are so many ways to promote change and make decisions in a community – many rely on things that an accountant, like myself, can especially get behind – mainly numbers and statistics, ratios to this and that. But you and I are not numbers. We are hearts, souls, experiences, and beliefs – all of that shape how we view the good, and bad, in our county.
The Cameron County Project is patterned after the Orton Family Foundation’s successful “Community Heart and Soul” program that captures the positive of a community through the stories told by those living here. Its principles are simple:
If this sounds like something you want to a part of, The Cameron County Project is hosting a *Call to Action* meeting on Monday, January 29th at the Chamber and Artisan Center. Doors will open at 6:30 pm and the meeting will begin at 7 pm, lasting about an hour. This meeting is intended to recruit volunteers, but will also be an introduction to the Project, its goals, and its upcoming projects and events. I want to invite all residents and friends of Cameron County seeking to promote positive vibes, long-lasting community pride to attend; and to be a champion of what residents love about our community.
Kind regards from your neighbor,
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For those of you that don't know, I'm one of those people that loves January for its time of reflection, closure andall the possibilities looking forward brings.
I'm also a bit of a motivational quote addict. They really do inspire me. Often, I google whatever it is I want to focus on for the day -- and find a cute little quote graphic and download it to my phone, (I share the really good ones on Facebook) and I just re-read it when I start to drag.
It really does help me focus my day to have something positive a swipe away to refresh my mind when I get bogged down. I feel like some days, our community could use a little pick me up, just to remind it that we're heading the right direction, and change is coming.
*WE'RE GOING DOWN A BEAUTIFULLY OPTIMISTIC, INSPIRING MOTIVATIONAL RABBIT HOLE TODAY -- SO BRACE YOURSELF... BECAUSE HERE. WE. GO!*
Nelson Mandela Once SAid...
First to acknowledge where I've been; this perspective helped carry me through 2017. It was a year full of learning and just putting myself out there. I wasn't really looking at things in a win/lose mentality, but there were times where I felt incredibly defeated, uneasy about what felt necessary *like start a grassroot community project* in order to move positive changes forward. I learned so much last year! I intend to learn exactly as much, hopefully more, this year!
So Let me Tell you about what Is currently Inspiring me...
The residents of our town!! You Guys (and Ladies) -- Seriously, you're amazing! 129 responses to the Post Card Home Survey - I'm humbled and grateful! I'm really looking forward to sharing the themes you've shared in each response, to ensure I'm hearing you correctly. In reading your responses, I've learned so much about things that use to be here, things that I never even thought were issues, and that maybe I'm not crazy to work towards the changes I want, because other people want them, too. I'm so stoked to start working toward ensuring these themes are heard by our decision makers, connecting your ideas and wants with the correct agencies and organizations, and using what you've said to help facilitate the change you're looking for.
I've been so inspired by local and regional entrepreneurs. They are motivated people, and they have big plans to crush their goals this year! I can't wait to see how their businesses develop and contribute to our community in the positive ways they have planned. Their eagerness to throw themselves at the things they enjoy -- is contagious when you spend time with them! I think this is an added benefit of #shoplocal movements -- you get to brush up against their excitement, and you leave feeling pretty inspired yourself! Each day they succeed a little bit in progressing towards their goals, and it's really starting to show. I think 2018 is going to be a big year for small business in our community -- and that's SO exciting!
I'm so proud to be a part of community where neighbors take care of each other. Seeing the love our community has poured into families and individuals that were hit hard this past year with unexpected diagnoses, tragedies, or just bad luck -- that is how I know the love is here and that love is what will always connect use as neighbors in only positive ways.
We also have resources and organizations, many I had no idea existed until last year, doing such positive things. For example -- I was really lucky to be able to share the Christmas Card Project cards with Friends Serving Friends -- so that the art students' cards were delivered with the delivered Christmas Meals-- just to share some Christmas Cheer with their donated artwork. I'm really excited to see how these organizations grow this year.
To everyone that stepped up last year to be kind, fill a void, lend a hand... You inspire me!
To the new faces, New Ideas and new activities in our community -- You Inspire Me, too!
I'd like to welcome the "transplants." I'm thrilled your here! Now be this perception or reality, believe it or not, our community has not always been the most welcoming to new-comers. Its a stigma that's out there. Let's acknowledge it and move past it because we have new artists, new businesses, new motivated individuals sparking change and inspiring their new neighbors to jump on board. This is Awesome!! I'm just as excited to tap into their fresh perspective and learn something from what they bring to the table this year, as I am to hearing more from our current residents. I know we can reconcile between all of our ideas, to promote and continue to grow a community we are proud of!
So With optimistic outstretched arms, I'm READY TO embracE the progress, good will, and opportunities to be had in our community this year... And I'm hoping to bring each of you along for the ride!
Everything I'm excited about and inspired by, has been applied to the goals I have for this year, but that's for another blog post.
So tell me, I'm dying to hear -- What's inspiring you as you begin this New Year? Share your favorite inspirational quotes to the Facebook wall or comment below.
In case you aren't inspired enough -- you can check out some of my favorite motivational musings.
Your Neighbor Jess*
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DId I ever Tell you about the Time I was a Fish?
It's a great story --
(bear with me as I tell this through my "those were the days" filter)
I was part of the Cameron County Swim Team in Elementary, Middle and Jr. High and it was really fun (and I was a pretty good swimmer and diver, to boot).
I, along with many other kids, lived at the school pool. (This was like a right of passage as you started to age out of spending your mornings and afternoons playing tennis ball, kick ball or SPIT at the closest playground under the supervision of a recently graduated High School Senior)
After a morning of sleeping-in, watching some Blues Clues or Dawson Creek Reruns....My dad would come home from his store, the Emporium Antique Co-op, and take me to practice. The water would still be frigid for dive team practice, and that was followed by swimming laps (lots and lots of laps). Now clearly, this was forever ( 15-20 years) ago as we still practiced BEFORE the pool opened -- its was cold. Let me be clear: really, really cold but it was always worth it.
After practice was over, we'd wait for the pool to open to the public at 1, and we'd be there until 4 when the pool closed to everyone but families.
We looked forward to this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
The Cameron County School District Board of School Directors will hold an Informational Meeting to discuss future operations of the Community Pool on October 17, 2017 at 7:00 PM. The meeting will be held in the high school and is open to the public.
So -- if you answered the Post Card Home survey and told me that you want more activities for kids -- this meeting might be worth attending. I'm not sure what has caused the decrease in use other than general population decline, or what other needs will be addressed, but I know that I'm really interested in hearing what they're going to say. I certainly hope to see many of you at this meeting.
Kind Regards from your Neighbor,
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What am I doing? Seriously -- How did I end up here? It's really weird to be sharing this project with the whole of Cameron County. (Ok, well not yet, but that's the goal.)
....So here it goes....
My journey to this point starts a year ago. You see, I was one of those Complainers. You know who I'm talking about. I would complain about decisions being made by ANYONE because I
disagreed based on what I thought I knew about the decision. I was educated on the
Emporium Rumor Mill, a minimal amount of reading the Echo, BUT I was WELL-VERSED on the comment sections of my friends' Facebook shared news snip-its.
*Some of you may have seen my work there*
Last year, I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn't keep complaining about Emporium,
because I really didn't know what was going on, and I needed to change that. If I was going to be complaining, I wanted to really know what I was complaining about....
It all boiled down to to one... simple... truth...
I knew what I didn't know, and I wanted to find out what I needed to know.
So I started attending community meetings. Township Meetings, Commissioner Meetings,
School Board Workshop Meetings.
I applied for Leadership Elk and Cameron and completed the program.
I started cold emailing the people in the community I admired in search of mentors. That lead to the ability to join Rotary (what I thought was the epitome of a classic Cameron County Club)
Then, I threw myself at different organizations and landed a Board Position with Sylvan
Heritage Council (Literally, because their first ever Pork & Cork was SO MUCH FUN! -- I knew I
wanted to be around those kind of people.)
And do you know what I found???
REALLY GREAT PEOPLE. Lots of the them. Who were really happy someone my age was interested in what they were doing. (Who Knew?!)
I found out that I was wrong about A LOT of what I thought I knew. I found out that the more I asked questions, the more open people where with me. I found out that our local clubs and boards and elected officials are searching for people that want to participate and I was welcomed to EVERYTHING, warmly.
I want that for EVERYONE. I want you each to experience the Emporium I now know and am
continuing to learn about.
That's not all.
I want the Emporium that is a great and safe place to live and play. Where people can not only work here, but thrive. Where residents aren't bored or feeling like it is NEVER going to get better.
The Cameron County Project is my attempt to help Emporium build the bridges it needs to
correct resident perceptions by bringing us all together on what we can agree upon....
*Drum Roll Please*
What we LOVE about living here.
Here is the deal, though, and its pretty huge deal: I need your help to do it -- because what I
think is best, isn't what you think is best.
The Cameron County Community Chest graciously agreed to partner with me. This project is
meant to encourage us all to share our stories about our home. Because the Heart of this
community resides in each of us, and when I find it...
I'm going to SCREAM IT FROM THE ROOF TOPS (Ok. Not Really...)
But I am going to use it to bring people together. I'm going to use it to show people the great things here. I'm going to use it in every positive way, anyone can come up with, to bring the change Cameron County so desperately deserves.
So Please, Help a Girl out....and like the Facebook page, take the Post Card Home Survey and
join my community. I'm not stopping until I reach every one of you and I could use some help.*
Kind regards from your neighbor,