Kennebec Valley Chamber

Serving the Kennebec Valley, Maine Region

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Friday Report ~ October 30, 2015

BOO! - Halloween has always been a magical time for me. As a boy, I recall sitting on the living room rug, pouring out the gigantic pillow case onto the floor and marveling at all the amazing goodies I got. We routinely got a candied apple or two and while I don't ever recall having a fear of razor blades, I recall the days when those candied apples stopped coming. If I am being honest, I have always been a sucker for a Reese's peanut butter cup. The more orange wrappers I got in that pillow case the better.
I traveled a lot and was not always home for Halloween when my first two children were growing up, so I made it a priority with my third to really embrace the holiday. We have decorated to the nines and for many years (10, to be exact) I have always dressed up with her in a complimentary costume. When she dressed as an Angel, I was the Devil. When she dressed as Dorothy, I dressed as the Wizard of Oz. I always let her choose the theme. I had a hard time explaining the theme the year that she was a gypsy and I was a cowboy or the year that I was a giant puppy dog (who looked more like a gopher by some accounts). Regardless, we have embraced this holiday to its fullest. 
 
This year, the decorations still sit in the box. We are 1 day from Halloween and there has been no talk of coordinated costumes. My princess is 11 this year and she is dressing as a Greek goddess with her best friend. We saw this coming and she tried to soften the blow by suggesting I hand out hot dogs in the park with the local community group. While I expect her to grow and these moments to pass, the transitions are still hard. I am lifted, however, by the fact that I have instilled in her a love of the holiday, a creative passion, and a touch of silliness!  
 
I have often felt that our communities are like our children. They have solid foundations and unwavering attributes that define them, but as time marches on, they grow and change. Each change can be challenging to face as businesses close their doors or new developments grow in place of beloved greenspace, but the communities remain the same deep down.  After all, it's the people, not the buildings that define who we are. Each one of our communities is made up of some of the strongest and kindest people I have ever met. When needed, they weather disaster, face challenges and bond together over their common interest in the community.
 
Much like removing a young child's bad habit, changing a community takes time, dedication and consistency. A long term plan needs to be established and, in order for true change to take effect, it has to be adhered to over an extended period of time. All too often, communities spend considerable effort defining and adopting a plan, and then change course with each administration that comes through the local government. This inconsistency can be fatal to a region and leaves a community struggling to find an identity and a common goal.
 
It's possible that many of you have never considered what your community should look like in 5 years. You go to work, go home and hope the town government, whom you entrust to grow your town is "all over it"- and it's possible that they are. It's also possible, however, that the "long term plan" or "master planning document" is sitting on a shelf and gathering years of dust. I encourage you to look into that. If your town has a long term plan, that they are actively following, make sure they are marketing the results (especially the successes) to the community. If the community is not aware of the long term goal, residents will not have a sense of identity.
 
In closing, take some time to look after your community. Nurture it and make sure that it is being steered in the right direction and it has a vision for the future. Without one, it will fail to grow and flourish. Also, take some time to be silly on Halloween and have a Reese's peanut butter cup.. They're fantastic!