It is interesting listening to the talking heads on TV and radio, reading the "experts" opinions on the web and in newspapers, and chatting with people around the country about the current state of America. I believe the current state of America is tied to the health of our local communities.
What is a healthy community and what are its characteristics? To me there are several important factors. Good jobs being available and a good school system to ensure education are two big factors. Many communities are struggling right now with these, especially the jobs issue.
Churches, support for the arts, and recreational opportunities also add much needed requirements for healthy communities. Support for the spiritual and emotional needs of a community are crucial for a healthy community.
One crucial aspect often neglected is the need for a place where people can come together and discuss, debate, and search for common ground as a community. In today's highly charged partisan atmosphere, it has become difficult to find organizations that will tackle the big issues in a non-partisan fashion. Many groups have taken the position that they just will not discuss issues that may create disagreements.
We need more places in every community where we can expose people to different ideas and give them the opportunity to share their passions with others. While the Grange has been doing just this for 142 years, others need to join us in meeting this crucial need of every community. The search for common ground within each community is critical to the long-term health of each. Without any common ground, our communities can easily tear themselves apart.
The strength and healthy of our American communities has many components, but one is that we must have places where we can search together for mutual benefits.