When I was mulling over ideas for this week's editorial I asked my nine- year-old what he thought was important for our community to hear about. Without hesitation he told me I should talk about community events.
This wasn't a total surprise for me, just last week we attended the Fire Department Open House and the latest Mountain Home Arts Council concert featuring The Rice Brothers. We treat these as our "Mommy and Son Dates" and are lucky to have these moments together.
Another reason I am not surprised is because he has a very strong opinion about our community and the events that are put together here. In fact, he has such a strong opinion about it that in the past I have told him he should submit a Letter to the Editor and tell everyone his beliefs.
Walking to the AFAD festivities in the park this year he informed me that he would always come back to Mountain Home when he grows up because of all of the "cool free stuff at the park and the beautiful paintings in our alleys" as of now, this is where he wants to return to and raise his family.
Most weekends in the summer you can count on finding my family in Carl Miller Park enjoying a free concert or a Movie in the Park. They are something we all enjoy doing, but I guess we didn't realize to what extent they matter to our son. Not only does he enjoy them, they have cemented his love for his community deeply into his heart. His love for this place can almost be overwhelming for me when he begins to speak this way and usually has me on the verge of tears. It is such a pure, innocent feeling of pride he feels for Mountain Home, he truly thinks it's the greatest place on Earth.
When he suggested to me that I use this as a topic for my editorial, I realized it was perfect for two reasons.
In my opinion he couldn't be more correct in saying how lucky we are to have organizations like MHAC working hard to bring things to our community. He has seen pretty much all forms of music imaginable between the Summer Concert Series and the other ones we attend together through the rest of the year. He has gotten to see Shakespeare and attended art shows, all things that without the council we would have to travel far outside of our community to experience. I one hundred percent agree with my son, we are truly lucky to experience these performances in our own little rural town.
The other reason I felt this article is timely is because we are in "election mode" here in our town and this part of the equation is two-fold. First off, I am not naive, I know it will be a very different thing for him to be so willing to come back here and raise his family as a young boy, then it will be as a young man with thoughts of making a good living and raising a family on his mind. At the last political forum it was asked of the candidates what they would do to make this a place our young people will want to spend there lives in. I have also asked it of the candidates in the questionnaire I recently sent each of them. As a mom, it's very important to me. One day I will be a grandparent and I want my grandchildren to grow up around the corner from us, like my son is experiencing now with his grandparents. I am not a politician, I don't know what the answers are to keep young people here and make young families want to settle here, but I do know from my own experience, better paying jobs and affordable housing are a must. As a community we need to figure out how to make that happen. Right now our population is growing, but a lot of the people buying homes are commuting to other places everyday for work, they are shopping and seeking entertainment in those communities too. We need to find a way to keep the people here who really want to be here and be invested in Mountain Home, invested in Elmore County, not just people who see it as a cheap mortgage a forty minute drive from Boise. We need to make the young kids who went to MHHS come back and raise their own families as Tigers or as a Glenns Ferry Pilot. I hope some of these candidates have good ideas they are ready to implement to help make this a reality. I also hope other people in the community who have an idea on how to work towards this goal speak up, you don't have to be an elected official to make a difference in this town.
The other part of this is something I have brought up again and again in my editorials - there is no reason to get nasty, but with elections less then a month away I don’t think it hurts for all of us to be reminded again. We are all a part of the same community, we all want the best for our little piece of Earth and for the members of this community.
Do we sometimes have differences of opinions on how to make this happen? You bet, but in the end, all any of us want is to happily live in our little town-safe, happy and content with being able to provide our families with the best lives possible.
Some of us see different routes on how to get there, and that’s fine, sometimes differences bring about the best dialogues and the best solutions to issues facing a group, community, organization etc. Differences of opinions don’t have to pull us apart, they can actually be our strengths to help make it a place where our children want to raise our grandchildren.
I’m lucky at this point, my son gets to be exposed to so many of the awesome things and people that this town has to offer. Something could happen in the future that may make him want to leave here or perhaps the lack of anything growing and evolving will make him decide to not return after he spreads his wings upon graduation.
I am not naive, I was one of the kids that absolutely did not want to return to Elmore County and spend my life here. I came back, because I fell in love with a Mountain Home ‘boy’ who was happy with his life here. I held it against him for a long time, on any given week I could tell you exactly how long I had been back in town, to the day, for a long time.
Things began to change for me as my children started participating in different activities, as I began volunteering and even more so, once I began working at the newspaper. It became impossible to ignore what a great place this can be, even though it was years before I could get sushi here in town (thank goodness that agony is over) and there are still some conveniences I miss from my college years in Boise.
However, some ‘kids’ aren’t sucked back in, so we need to find a way to make a larger portion of them never want to leave in the first place. It starts with working together to promote job growth and stable/livable wages locally and housing young families can afford. It also means we need to work together to keep bringing awesome events to town. Maybe most of all it starts with our children not seeing us tearing into each other and other people’s ideas on social media on a daily basis. A little less bullying and a lot more cooperation on the part of us adults will hopefully keep our children here.