Community conversation planned

Most people who call Cottage Grove home were born here or transplanted here by family or personal choice. Most will agree we live in a remarkable small town enjoying a lifestyle that is only a dream for millions of people around the world. As Grovers, we have a responsibility to be thoughtful about how to preserve, protect and enhance our community for the generations that will follow us.

The individuals and families who came before us worked hard and invested their time, talents, money and vision to create the community we enjoy today. They built roads, bridges, mills, mines, schools, hospitals, homes, churches and businesses. They joined granges, fraternal lodges and clubs to strengthen the social fabric of Cottage Grove. The relationships built within these organizations sustained them through wars, economic downturns, illnesses and natural disasters. 

That was then and this is now. Today, those organizations that still exist have an aging membership with few young people to replace them. Technology, social media, television and radio have contributed to the increasing polarization of our citizenry by repressing the conversations that build a strong sense of community.

In 2007, more than 1,000 community-minded volunteers participated in the original interactive process that created a shared vision for the future. In 2008, the city council adopted Vision 2037 and appointed Vision Keepers to ensure it remained a living document. It was reviewed five years ago to acknowledge the actions completed, those still in progress and added a few new actions.

The plan is now 10-years-old; so it’s a great time to once again engage the broader community in its update. Some people who developed this plan have died or moved away. Students have graduated and left to pursue their dreams. Many new people have moved here. Many natives have returned to raise their families here. Affordable housing is a growing problem. Our country is dangerously divided on major public policy issues that affect our lifestyles and our future. We will soon surpass 10,000 in population that ushers expensive new state and federal mandates to our door.

These are all good reasons to step away from online games, TV programs and social media for two hours and re-invest that time in a face-to-face chat with your family, friends and neighbors. Spend the next week thinking about what you hope The Grove will be two decades from now when we celebrate our sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary. What kind of community will the children of today and those who follow them inherit from us? Come to the Cottage Grove High School cafeteria next Tuesday (5/15) from 6 to 8 p.m. and share your vision for our growing town.

Please join us for a productive and creative evening of refreshments and good conversation. Bring the older kids to have a voice in their future and we’ll provide free, quality child care for your wee little ones. For more information (and child care RSVP) call Pete Barrell at 541-767-4147.