Sunday, January 31, 2010

Final Mahomet Citizen Column - The Best Is Yet To Come

I've been pondering how I would write this column for the last couple of days, and have found that there are far more things to say about my experience in Mahomet than would fit into this, my final column for the Citizen.

However, I've never been one to let word limits get in the way of what I hope is a shared feeling and message.

For nearly a year and a half I've tried to share with you the parts of me I think reside in everyone. I think there are basic components to everyone that allow us to be so caring, understanding, resourceful and resilient and I think part of me hoped that by sharing these things about myself, those of you reading my columns would try to find what brought these things out in you.

I do know that as a community, Mahomet is all of those things and more. I've had the enormous honor to learn about this community from the inside out over the last year and a half and I can safely say, I learned more about Mahomet in that time than I learned in the 15 years that I lived here. For that, I cannot express enough gratitude.

There are people in this community on all levels that I would like to thank, but to be honest, it would take more space than is in this entire newspaper.

For those of you who I have interacted with, for every story I've written and every interview I've done, I've been able to see the very thing I became a journalist to see - the human condition and the struggles, triumphs and excitement contained within a single community.

I'll be honest, it was hard for me to not see Mahomet as a bedroom community when I first started, because that was what I knew about Mahomet coming into things.

Even now, there are residents who believe Mahomet is nothing more than a bedroom community, which may be true, but only half true, if anything.

The other side of that truth is, there is a community growing in so many directions it doesn't know which one is best. While that may seem like a slight, I encourage you to see it as the enormous potential that your community not only has, but the potential that you as a resident have to have your hand in that growth.

I've never been somewhere that a community was so engaged in its own future and even now, you've only begun to scratch the surface of where you can go. Being part of that and being able to see that is just awesome.

I would also like to thank the various public officials for the chance to cover and - in many cases - have a say in the direction things should go. The things I have learned from those experiences alone have been worth so much.

Finally, I would like to thank the readers - the ones who liked what I had to say, didn't like what I had to say and were kind of enough to speak up when they believed there was something to be said - for showing me what community journalism means.

It's one thing to write a story, which I enjoyed, but to be able to invest in the community emotionally and to see the feelings of those stories and be involved with conveying them on the pages is something special for me.

I can safely say that I will always believe one of the things that makes a great story is believing in the people you are writing about and believing in what they have to say.

While I am currently unsure of what my future holds, I would like to compare my situation to that of the village itself (if only loosely): We know the future holds something great for us - even if we aren't sure what it is yet - and we can't wait to get there.

Thank you for allowing me to be part of such a wonderful process, Mahomet. And remember, whether you can see what the future holds or not, always enjoy the view.

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