April 15, 2012

A celebration of recreation

It seems like just yesterday when this community participated in a discussion of the role of the arts in our North Country.

The discussion had been initiated when a group of concerned residents and community leaders assembled to create a Vision 2040 that could guide the economic development necessary to sustain our children in a North Country economy.

We confronted some stark realities and have since realized that we would need an additional 3,000 families to either remain, return or be attracted to our region just so we could maintain the quality of life to which we have become accustomed.

When we framed the problem not as what we must do in the creation of manufacturing, but what we must do to attract people to come, the challenge took on a whole new light.

It is apparent that to attract new people to our region, we must no longer compare what we have to offer in the future with what we had in the past. That might be relevant to retain more North Country residents, but it does little to attract new residents who have myriad locations from which to choose.

When we try to attract a new professional to our hospital, our university, our businesses or our agencies, we can provide for them an exciting job opportunity. To their spouse and family, though, their professional excitement holds little sway.

The rest of the family seek other opportunities, perhaps for a professional challenge themselves, a good school system, access to a high-quality airport with a good schedule of flights, etc. And, all seek the types of amenities people who have many such opportunities come to expect.

The first community discussion on such a social infrastructure centered around the arts. The forum, held in January, was very successful. It was introduced on Thom Hallock's Mountain Lake Journal one Thursday, was followed by a presentation at the Krinovitz Auditorium in Hawkins Hall on the Plattsburgh State campus, and it culminated in a community forum and call-in discussion on Mountain Lake PBS. With each presentation and discussion, the circle was widened and the discussion expanded.

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