Thursday, July 18, 2013

Not mincing words

Observations as a writer and human being:  A headline in our local newspaper caught my attention.  Our resident, local college has decided to be more a part of the community.  Well, that's nice, but since the college was founded over 100 years ago, I think that time is sufficient to have 'become a part of the community' and have done so in big ways.  OK  Times change, maybe I can look at that headline from that standpoint. still could have made an effort to achieve that goal in 100 years.  We live in a small town of a population of like 12,000 in the entire county.

The brain drain:  Many, many areas, especially small towns and small cities across America, are talking and writing about the brain drain and what can we do about it?  From my observations of small potatoes and small potatoes cities as compared to larger cities, much of the brain drain has amounted to:  A) Small areas, those sporting colleges especially, should hang their heads because of the fact that college grads graduate then make a big exodus for the state lines.  Why?  I don't think it's major rocket science at all.  Small areas tend to ignore their college grads.  There are jobs that hardly ever, if ever get offered to college grads.  Their theory is: Well those grads won't stay.  So the very fear of the workers not staying seems to be small areas self-fulfilling prophecy.  They create the very environment that causes graduates to not want to help improve the small areas, even if it's their home town, because those businesses and communities fail to recognize the talent in their own backyards.  People will only be enthusiastic for so long and they will only be ignored for so long, before they move on and give up on the area.

If this is all that's offered to grads, well, move on time.

Many times when small areas need something done, I read, time and time again, how they 'hired some consulting firm' to help achieve a goal for the town or city.  Why?  Well, they fail to look for local talent, small areas tend to have small, elite circles, not allowing 'those in town who just haven't been adopted by the powers that be' to be viewed as 'one of them.'  This is pretty much self defeating.  The colleges crank out graduates then seem to not like or trust their own degrees.  I've noticed, first hand, in my own area, that 

1) The local college seems to be recently hiring those cute, young, white girls with cute figures to fill a job that many smart guys have applied for.  What does that tell ya?  Kind of creepy in my book.  But we all know why they were chosen.  Hey, I'm not stupid.

2) Most employers tend to hire those with much less education fearing smart people won't stay.  Well, I've noticed those with less education don't stay much either because they don't work out since many of them don't understand instructions well.  The turnover is very high, where maybe, hiring those with more education might work out better when it comes to figuring out even the simplest of instructions.  And, maybe, just maybe, they could help improve the existing businesses to make more money and be more efficient.  The moral seems to be: Just because someone with less education, those people employers can push around better, get hired, doesn't translate to hiring them means they will stay either.

3) Small areas fail to grow, to thrive, they tend to lose population, much of it due to their refusal to tap into their local talent, those very people who would be more likely to have a vested interest in the town's ability to improve and thrive.  Instead they pay big monies to strangers, outside consulting firms, who have no interest in anything other than making money from the town fathers.  Not a cool move.

So I see, for way too many years, our small town, fail to grow, fail to attract or keep, businesses and shops and stores because they look in all the wrong places for advice.

Having lived for seven years, in larger cities, I can see that getting hired on your own merit of being able to do the job, works better for growth.  One can live a good share of their lives in small potatoes town and still never be considered as 'one of them' or ever enter the small potatoes elite circle.  The circle is usually made up of those who are cronies and not those who are necessarily all that observant or smart.

Our small town is hoping to build condos for 'seniors to retire in', they are renovating an old building into what they call 'elite apartments' while having no businesses or activities here to attract any of those target populations.  The cart before the horse, I believe it's called. 

The results I see?  A) A new apartment building with high rent, no jobs in town to assure people can afford thet rent, sitting empty with a generic 'Vacancy' sign out front looking like a cheap hotel.

B) A newly renovated office, apartment and restaurant building, sitting in town, for two years, completely empty, even though it looks pretty on the outside. Failing to attract tenants.

The 'senior community condos' bull dozed, sitting in empty lots, scarred up land, just dirt and now weeds again, no condos and no residents even appearing to want to buy any or build any. 

C) I see public parks that thrived in the 90's and before that, sitting idle, like ghost parks, on the lake, no one using them, no one boating, no one using jet skis and it's very sad when I compare the idleness to the the activity the parks once enjoyed.

Maybe small towns and cities should Wake UP!