Almost seven years ago I decided to get involved in our humble little town of Battle Creek.
I did this after witnessing a homicide in front of my house. I decided to try and do something about this kind of nonsense, rather than sit in my living room and complain about it.
Back in 2014, I was selected to be a part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network. As part of that program, I have been able to travel across the country and see a lot.
I’ve been to Albuquerque where I saw a city commit itself to developing its entrepreneurs while embracing its rich history.
I’ve been to Jackson, Mississippi, where I stood at a podium in the old State Capitol Building, on the same floor where legislators voted to secede from the Union in the months leading up to the Civil war. I went on that trip as a mixed man in America with two Latinos, a Native American and an Asian woman, which seems like the start of a joke, but it happened.
I’ve been to New Orleans and sat in a church that was just an Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary away from the levees that failed during Hurricane Katrina and left the church under water. The only reminder a decade later was the water line you could see on the wood beams of the roof of the church.
I’ve been to Detroit as it came out of bankruptcy and toured the city to hear from residents that fight against coal and oil companies which pollute their air, leading to an asthma rate 29% higher than the rest of Michigan.
I don’t say all of this to brag about my frequent flyer miles. I say this to show that every city is facing its own problems, Doesn’t matter if they’re big or small. I say this to show that throughout our city, our state, our country and our world, there are people who wake up every day and try to make their community a better place to live.
Battle Creek is a unique place given the amount of resources we have for a town of our size. But no Fortune 500 company can save us if we don’t save ourselves. And I have no doubt, there are lots of people doing their small part to improve our humble little town.
What will Battle Creek look like in 10 years? I don’t know. Maybe we’ll have a luge run or Dairy Queen will be open year-round.
But what I do know is it will take people to make it happen.
And when those people come up with ideas, we as a community must support them and not complain that we don’t have something else. For instance, if a new burger joint opens, let’s not complain that it’s not Five Guys. Or if a toy store opens downtown (you probably didn’t even know we already have one downtown), let’s not complain it’s not Toys R Us.
Come explore and celebrate what Battle Creek does have to offer. By doing that the marketplace will reward us with the other things we wish to have.