Reaching back to one of those irritating questions from some long ago conference, what kind of child's toy would you be? Are you a ball, bouncing from one thing to another? A puzzle, laying around waiting for the pieces to fall into place?
I’ve been impressed lately with the number of kites we have in Tahlequah. Kites? Those flat things that lay around in the corner of the garage with that tail attached, tripping folks up?
Yes, kites. Those unassuming objects that, when given enough energy and effort, start soaring, generating wonder in those watching, as the kite almost effortlessly dances on the breeze and climbs higher and higher.
You see, we have people who have a vision, a dream of what could be. And instead of sitting around admiring the dream, talking about the dream, and then finally putting it away, they start walking with it. As they walk, they start gathering up the tail – those folks who are so necessary to provide direction and stability.
But a decision must be made. Are they going to start running, building the energy necessary to take flight? Or is the dream relegated to the garage? These kite people take a deep breath and start to sprint. They know if their dream will fly, they must invest themselves. If the first run doesn’t work, they make a few adjustments, change strategies, and start working again.
There are so many examples. Here are two that probably have already caught your attention.
About two years ago, a group of neighbors became concerned about the future plans for an overgrown piece of land nearby. They came together and formed a nonprofit entity with the goal of purchasing the property and turning it into a natural park with walking paths and a pond. They wanted to turn the brushy woods into something that would enhance their neighborhood, encourage healthy activity, and provide space for families and children. Today, two grants totaling almost a half million dollars have been awarded. The land has been purchased and the project is moving into engineering and construction. Make no mistake – a person had the dream initially and that person has devoted much of their last two years to “build the tail” and keep things moving forward.
Another group of people with common interests in hiking, running and mountain biking started working several years ago to build a recreational trails park. Not only did they want a local place to indulge their hobbies, they had a vision of the impact this type facility could have on tourism and, ultimately, on our local economy, as well as on the health of our residents. This project experienced some “stop and adjust” periods. Now a 200-acre location just east of the Illinois River has been acquired. One individual with the dream just invested a week of her time running mountains most of us wouldn’t consider trying to climb, reaching the point of physical collapse, raising money to put wind under this kite.
When these kites take flight and we step back to admire what has been provided to our community, we may ultimately lose sight of the individual who made it a reality. But our gratitude is to those people who have a dream and take off running.
Sue Catron, former assistant vice president of Business and Finance at Northeastern State University, is mayor of Tahlequah.