This week, I’d like to get personal. I’d like to talk about what redevelopment really means for me, and for you. It’s all well and good to talk about “effectively utilizing resources” and “creating beneficial change” … but what does that actually mean for our daily lives? What’s the end goal? What’s in it for me? What’s in it for you?
What’s in it for me is the best possible future I can provide for my children. For your children. For children of people I will never meet, generations in the future. I am working for a world where all children are free to live their best possible life, a world where anything is possible. One of the most touching responses I’ve ever seen to our Community Vision Survey is “I want my children to have safe options as they grow. I also don’t want to have to leave town to create memories with them.” The responses to our survey are anonymous, but if you wrote that, I want you to know that it makes me tear up every time! Because that’s exactly what we all want, what we’re all working toward.
But what does that mean for our daily lives? How does “creating a better world” impact us, right here, right now? This kind of work takes time, of course, so sometimes the impact can be hard to see. Rustbelt communities like ours have seen their purpose and population sucked away over the course of decades, and we can’t turn everything around overnight. But we can do relatively quick things, like building a community farm, which is starting small and will grow, right alongside our children. And we can bring some extra color and simple joy into our towns with things like murals and banners. We’re doing those things as funding and circumstances allow, and I look forward to working alongside many of you as we do.
The biggest part of redevelopment is bringing back the sense of purpose we once enjoyed, but the smaller stuff plays a crucial role. Making daily life a little brighter, healthier, and more fun is important, because it gives us the energy we need for the long-haul projects, like redeveloping our local brownfields and revitalizing local industry and business, which will bring the biggest impacts in everyone’s daily life. We are working for new educational opportunities that will allow our children to discover what they love to do. We are working for new jobs that will allow our children to make a living doing what they love. We are working to recapture the sense of innovation, of “anything is possible” that brought settlers and oil boom workers into this region in the first place.
If you’d like to add your voice to our redevelopment planning, you can access the community vision survey at acrivervalley.org. Together we can create a better tomorrow that means something real for all of us, now and into the future.
Selina Pedi is the Oil Region Alliance redevelopment manager. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.