Thanks to my dad, I am a lover of history. I actually enjoy stopping at historical markers. Maybe it is my love of history and the realization that life is “but a vapor” that pushes me to make “it” happen –whatever “it” might be. That or sleep deprivation for the last 10 years of motherhood has caused a slight brain malfunction.
Two years ago I started the Will Rogers Park Project –a plan to renovate a historic park for all people to enjoy. At the time, I couldn’t tell you how or where to even start. I didn’t know the mayor’s name nor did I know who the city manager was. Heck, if you had asked me about CIEDA I would have thought that it was something that you used as an ointment on a rash. Fast forward over countless meetings, learning a few ropes, and sheer refusal to quit, I can now tell you that the missed and much loved Mickey Perry was the mayor at the time of the start of the project and now it is Bill Flanagan. Jim Thomas is the city manager and Jeri Koehler is the mastermind of Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority or CIEDA. Along the way I also met some incredibly helpful and driven people that live right here in our town. I found fellow visionaries and realized that they want to make our town even better.
I heard right off the bat that “unless you were born here” you will never be able to get anything done or ever fit in. I also heard about this “old guard”. (I have yet to find out who that secret society consists of.) What I do know, that had I not gotten involved a few years ago, I wouldn’t have ever met Renetta Harrison with the Rogers County Health Department. I wouldn’t have gotten to know that fireball of energy and passion about all things health and I wouldn’t be near as inspired. I wouldn’t have met the “king of parks”, Joe Kays or Tanya Andrews, Ron Bailey or now-County Commissioner, Ron Burrows. I would have missed getting to know Amy Gordon, Robert Melton and Ashley Orf and all the love they have for Claremore and watched as they successfully started the incredible MoreClaremore website. I would have missed witnessing what our businesses like Pelco Structural and organizations like Healthy Community Partnerships, the VFW and The Elks Lodge mean to Claremore. The park project has nearly finished its fundraising and soon you will see a vision fulfilled beyond a simple playground. It happened because of connections and I am not a Claremore original! I could go on and on with the invaluable friendships that getting out of my comfort zone has brought me. Sure, it is easier if you were born and raised here because you already have many of those connections –but then again maybe you don’t have them all and maybe the people in high school aren’t the same people that they are today. (That is a whole other topic altogether. Am I right?)
The wonderful thing about living in a smaller town is walking into a store or a restaurant and seeing your friends. As a teenager, you hate it because you know someone is keeping you accountable but as a parent, it is wonderful. As an adult wanting to better your community, raise a family or run a successful business, those friendships are the very life of your vision, your opportunity and sometimes your sanity!
It is this discovery and the understanding that it truly does “take a village” to not only raise a child, but to accomplish any major task in life that has brought about the idea to create an organization that unites all of those dreamers and visionaries. I invite anyone who wants to make connections –whether it is to grow your business or contribute to your community or just be involved in something bigger than one person, to the Will Rogers Memorial Museum, Tuesday, March 10th at 6:30pm. In some communities, this is called a “young professionals group” but there are many of us that aren’t all that young or have a profession, but we have just enough hope and stubbornness inside of our hearts that we get stuff done. (I retain the title of Domestic Goddess but only on days that the laundry of our six family members is all done and put away and then I feel like demanding a raise. I guess getting paid would be a start.) That is why this is open to us all. Be defined by your heart and not your age or job or limitations.
And just to wrap this piece up… the revolution that led to the beginnings of our great nation began with a desire and the friendships of a few men who stood up to a challenge to create something bigger than the standard. They were the Sons of Liberty that created the beginnings of the United States. Okay, you busted me. I watched the mini-series but the same goes for us. (Sam Adams is famous for more than making ale!) Together, we can make those connections that grow our businesses, let our voices be heard and help each other and our community when needed, be it an event or business open-house. Let’s make it happen, not let it happen. See all you movers and shakers on Tuesday, March 10th.
-by Crystal Campbell