A Love Letter To My HometownSeptember 30, 2012 - Author: newscoma - Comments are closed
I think you can go home again.
I do, yet I also believe that, as Stephen King once wrote, the world does move on and I’m visiting shadows of my past. The good, the bad and the realization of what was and what can be.
I miss Hoots a lot. I don’t deny that but in the nearly two years I’ve been gone each time I travel back it does feel more like a visit to a place that was such a huge influence of who I am now. It is a destination now, yet I remember when it was everything. And it is just that now, a visit.
The world has moved on. Mine and theirs …
The town has colorful murals painted all over the small college town these days which weren’t there before which is really fabulous. There are new businesses. I see that it is growing a quirky identity that I admit that I wish I’d been there to witness. Hell, they are having a Zombie Run to raise money next month. (And can I get an amen!)
Here is the story. Dr. Linda Ramsey asked me to come and speak at a democratic fundraising event. For all the folks that think small towns in this state aren’t blue, let me tell you that there were a ton of people who filled the UT Martin Ballroom on campus. The candidates spoke about their platforms, I talked about messaging and how important it was to look at policies that were being made in Nashville that would seriously effect small towns and we needed to know about them. That communication was absolutely key because elections matter. That infrastructure in rural communities is so lacking right now.
An example would be that we have a new port in Lake County, which is one of the poorest counties in the state. Yet we are also going to have to develop a road system that can get the products to the port for transport. Same goes for the megasite in Haywood County, which will also need roads to and from the location.
I also visited a phone bank, which was a surprise to me at least because I just happened upon it, that was occurring in a local coffee shop where I used to hang my hat. Volunteers were making calls to North Carolina.
Now this is important, campers.
The phone bank volunteers weren’t making persuasion calls. They were calling explaining to NC voters about voter registration problems in the state because they are confusing. Folks thought that they had registered to vote but the reality is that the instructions were vague. So a few folks were making calls to make sure that they understood there were several hoops to go through and just applying online didn’t finish the process for voter registration. Folks in small town Tennessee see that voter suppression is happening and got off the couch to do something about it.
I can’t tell you how my heart sang. I just can’t describe it in words. We talked about how politically small towns are sometimes forgotten unless it is an election year. How funding cuts many times will come from rural programs that are important. And there wasn’t a cynicism about any of these conversations, it more about what tangibly we all can do. I love that. I just do.
And I also, because I don’t want to go all Teal Deer on you, I want to tell you the story that candidate Mark Oakes told about Stephen Fincher. I liked Oakes and when he talked about his hometown, I thought to myself how he really cared about what was happening in this country right now. It was heartfelt and he even choked up a bit talking about working with the homeless. The reason I’m bringing it up is that it made me so angry about what Fincher said. Oakes said that the congressman spoke recently at an event (I can’t remember where) and someone gave him a stick. Fincher made a joke that he was going to use that stick on Nancy Pelosi. And I felt my face go flush with an anger that I can’t even properly describe.
Really, has it come to that? I shouldn’t be surprised with the news drought that we have nationally right now but it still shockes me every time.
Do we have such a famine of civility in this country? And I realized that we do. I’m glad a candidate brought it up and said “No more of this!” And I was also pleased to see so many seats filled with such a diverse crowd of interested people. You get out the vote with conversations, my friends, and the times that I was home was filled with dozens of meaningful snippets about life. And these folks aren’t going to be quiet anymore and I love that.
So yes, you can go home again and I wish I had more than just 36 hours because I was given so many wonderful surprises.
I guess this is a love letter to my hometown and I’m so proud of them. The world can move on, as I mentioned earlier, in a good way. As King wrote, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
They have started and they aren’t going to stop and the beautiful thing is, they aren’t afraid.