26 March 2014

something to ponder, if you have time...

Once again, I sit here in front of one of my happy places (my Finding Windom blog), ashamed it has taken me months to get here again.  Believe me when I tell you I have written a million posts in my mind while chopping onions to make the Soup of the Day or finishing up the last of the day's dishes in the kitchen of River City Eatery after a busy day. It is still a constant in my mind, this place I contently call home, all the possible evolution that is waiting to be surfaced around that beautiful "castle," as my son calls it.  The grandeur of history stands tall in the center of all the hubub of a day.  There is no doubt you can feel the pride of our ancestors work marking Windom as the county seat of Cottonwood County by building such an astonishing courthouse in our downtown.  Even my toddler can appreciate its beauty as he, and his cousins, ride their bikes up and down the sidewalks pretending it really is their castle.  The truth is, it really is everyone's castle. 
I recently read this article (below), and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I finally understand why it stuck with me for so long-I think it can relate to Windom (and other rural communities) and what I've been trying to explain through all these crazy posts since the inception of my Finding Windom blog. 
Please read: 
"A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went... through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
Interesting story, right? 
Now apply it to Windom.  How many times have we dismissed talent in Windom?  How many times have we dismissed what a local business can offer to go straight for the big town, big box store who is offering the same product?  How many times have we sent our talented, educated young men and women away to a big cities because "there is nothing here for you?"  How many times have we accepted the garbage blowing across the street, crumbling brick and mortar, chipped paint, meth houses/buildings because it is just "good enough?"  How many times have we sought the help and ideas of companies from big cities to tell us what our city needs to do to "survive?"  How many times have we dismissed the beauty of our courthouse and our unique downtown?"
We are perfectly capable, as community members, to respect ourselves and to protect our quality of life.  How do we perceive ourselves as a rural community or what most would think of as "unexpected content" for success, talent, even creativity?  We need to start giving ourselves some credit, by respecting the work of our ancestors, by giving our community a thriving future, by evolving into a place where we celebrate what we have to offer and take pride in what we have to offer.  After all, we are the little city that would, so we should not continue to be the little city that could.  Just think about it for a second, the answer is within ourselves, you know, as a community, how we want to be perceived by others.