Published 1:34 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2003
Be involved to make the change
What will it take to change the perception that people have of Atmore, the perception that things are never going to change, that this town has always been and always will be a small timber town where a few control the destiny of the entire area?
For a long time people have said that the economy of the area needs to diversify, so more jobs are created and industry brought in, in a kind of economic feeding frenzy.
When the opposite happened, businesses closing or moving away, the citizens have blamed everyone in sight, the mayor, city council and other community leaders.
It is said often that these individuals do not want change, they want things to stay exactly as they are.
Examine this argument.
What possible reason could anyone have to want this town to dry up and blow away like so many other small towns across the region are doing?
Why would a politician not want there to be good times for the citizens? If a politician is in office when the economy gets better, they stand a far greater chance of re-election. It worked for Bill Clinton.
If a business owner stymies growth, how will that business remain open? Employees have to come from somewhere. And educated employees are far better for a company than illiterate employees. Local wages aren't high enough for those looking for work to drive very far, so a local supply of employees is better.
The answer to lack of progress is in the mirror.
People say it can't change, that there is some nefarious scheme afoot to keep things just the way they are.
That is rationalization for a lot of the people in this town not getting involved and creating change.
The ones who believe that power is cradled in the hands of a few should let that righteous anger work for them, and for Atmore. They should join steering committees, and get involved politically. They should pack the city council meetings, and find out what is being done to grow this little town. If what is being done isn't to their liking, say so. Ask questions, get answers. Suggest other avenues to pursue.
Read the annual budgets for the schools, the city.
Talk with your neighbors about what you want to see in town, and how to make it happen. See if you can go a whole day without saying that it will never be any different in Atmore.
Cleaning up the city and beautifying the parks will help, but not as much as an involved citizenry would.
If you don't like the way things are going, change it. The people have the right, the opportunity and the obligation to do so.
But it is never going to happen if the citizens keep on believing they are unable to build the community they want Atmore to become.