For Release April 6, 1999
by Chuck Otte, County Extension Agent
One of the "side effects" of my job is that I spend a certain amount of time on the road and in other communities. I am a constant observer, and I make a study of people. I like to watch people, how they act out in public and while walking down the street. I watch communities and I look at how the community and the people interact. One of the more interesting observations is how people react to and create community pride.
Pride, whether it is pride in ones own self, appearance, home or community, is not something that just happens. It has to be made to happen and many times we have to learn how to have pride. Let me also say that there is good pride and bad pride. Good pride has to do with respect. Respect of yourself, your friends and neighbors, respect of the community you live in. Bad pride is self centered egotism. Or perhaps to use a couple of definitions from the dictionary: bad pride is arrogant behavior, good pride is dignified respect. Lets focus on good pride!
One of the quickest ways that someone else forms an opinion about you and where you come from is in how you talk about your community and the people that live and work there. If you are constantly trashing them and speaking negatively of them I can pretty much guarantee that the other person will develop a less then desirable opinion of you and your community. When I am in another community I try to be a good ambassador for Geary County. I conduct myself in a positive manner and, if asked, I speak highly of my community and the positive activities and people that live here.
Another way that people form opinions about us and our community is what they see when they arrive here for business or a visit. If they see unkempt properties and trash blowing around then they will probably think that people here dont care very much about themselves or their community. If you drive into another community and it is neat and clean you probably have a very positive initial opinion of that community.
How people are involved in a community is an additional measure of community pride. Are there a lot of community activities involving a large cross section of the community? Are the people involved in the various government activities? Do the people vote, do they attend city and county government meetings, do they volunteer to serve on committees? Or do a few people wind up doing everything while a majority of the community sits on their hands?
Community pride starts with each and every individual. You cant change anyone but you. But if everyone works on improving themselves, then community improvement WILL happen. Take pride in your home and work place. Pick up trash and throw it away in a proper receptacle. How often have you walked by the same piece of trash in a parking lot or along a sidewalk. Take three seconds to pick it up and put it in a trash can. We cant always assume that "someone else" will do it. Dont think of it as "its not my job" but rather "its everybodys job." Next time someone asks you how things are in Junction City or Grandview Plaza or Milford think about all the good things happening and all the positive reasons to come to your community and spend time. If you cant think of any then come visit me and Ill take a couple of hours to point them out to you!
Community pride is you, me, everyone around us, how we think, how we act, what we say and what we do. Start working on your community pride today. You may just find that your positive actions and words may wind up infecting your neighbors and then the whole darn community will be infected with it!
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