If you weren't from Findlay, but have heard about the city through the regional/national media, what have you learned over the past year?
1) The city has major problems with flooding, and things are not going to get better for years.
2) Findlay is one of the best 100 communities in the country for young people.
3) This is a rust-belt town, where the population is 93% white, possibly racist, and where "people (in Findlay) are kind of funny about change" - and this was an actual quote from the Mayor.
4) Findlay is the home of the Super Bowl winning quarterback.
5) The local University won a national basketball championship.
6) A school in Findlay suspended a student for attending a prom.
Now, if you are a company looking for a place to locate your business...or if you are a couple looking for a nice place to start a family...or if you are a high school student looking for a school and community to spend the next four years...does the good outweigh the bad?
I think everyone understands how things can get blown out of proportion or how a few bad characters or circumstances can unfairly characterize a community. We hear about it all the time on the news. Yet, it seems like it is happening more and more to us.
Everyone is smiles when Findlay gets mentioned alongside Big Ben, or Gavin Creel, or the Oilers. It is nice to see our name in lights or associated with winners. When we see these successes, we take it is a credit to our hometown and belief that the way these people were raised and supported over the years was correct. We feel that we are doing it right.
So how do we feel when the opposite happens? How do we feel when national media portray the city in a negative light? Do we accept personal responsibility for what happened, or do we explain it by saying that those from the outside do not know who we really are.
Flooding still happens, and yet we blame the Army Corps of Engineers for not being able to move fast enough on a solution. Not happy with our local representatives; no one runs for office and an (almost) entire slate of candidates will be unopposed in November. A student decides to attend a dance and understands the punishment for doing so; blame the school and principal for their archaic rules.
Maybe we aren't that different from how we're portrayed. It is difficult to look at ourselves objectively and see how our responses may be inappropriate. Instead of looking to put the burden on others, maybe we should look inwardly to see how our actions and words affect others.
Do you want to stop the cycle of negativity and ignorance and contribute positively to your community, or do you want to sit in the background and do nothing? Do you want to help organize your neighbors to accomplish something, or do you want to hide behind an electronic veil and spew hatred and ignorance through on-line comments? The civic and organizational leaders that I grew up admiring and being mentored by would choose the former. How about you?
When I started this post, it was more out of concern that Findlay was portrayed inaccurately. Now, I'm not so sure what I'm trying to convey. It just seems that with the economy in the dumps, and all the financial issues in the community, and the fighting over layoffs, and the name calling and bad feelings that have developed...it is going to take more than a letter to the editor by Mayor Sehnert to get a positive attitude flowing through the city again.
I'm not sure what to even suggest at this point. It is frustrating and enough to give me a headache. It physically hurts to see us in this kind of mess. I know there are people out there who feel the same way, so I'm looking to you for help. What do we do? What can we do? It is up to us!