I start this week with a question: Why is it that we immediately jump to the conclusion that others’ intentions are negative? It seems as natural as a flower blossom opening up to the sun...negativity. Why?

Think about it. When the city of Crossett stopped its leaf pickup service, what was your knee-jerk reaction? When the Chamber of Commerce switched its Christmas in Crossett festival to daytime instead of nighttime, how did you react? When the tax to build the new high school went through, where did your thoughts go?  When the Crossett Riding Club moved the rodeo date to the beginning of summer instead of the end, what did you say?

Other peoples’ actions are such fertile soil for judgment. And when you are not in the seat of decision or action it seems the natural course is negative in nature. It might start with an innocent, “If it were me, I would...” Stop right there. It isn’t you. Instead of stepping onto the path of talking about doing things differently just for the sake of not doing it the way it is being done, reroute. Take the road of silver linings and half full glasses of lemonade.

That rerouting is one of the many attitudes it is going to take during this time in Crossett of building community. Some of us agree that community is important. Most of us agree the community in Crossett needs a boost. All of us seem to want something other than the way things are. 

Let’s pave this new way with support for those trying new things. Seek out community-building events. Don’t wait for them to knock on your door. Log onto social media. Tune in to local radio. Pick up the Crossett newspaper. Listen to your neighbors. The information is out there.  Take the initiative to find it.

When you find it, act on it. Offer your help. We live in the busiest yet most nonproductive times.  If you have heard it once, you have heard it a million times and you have probably said it yourself double that: “I picked up my phone and before I knew it I’d been scrolling an hour! “

Now, I know I just told you to tune into information sources like social media and local media. But so often we put off being a part of something so we can get lost in the isolation of our phone or our TV or our notebook or whatever piece of technology you find consuming your time.

How many of us can binge watch streaming media while the world whirls around us? Or channel surf so our viewing time is seamless and goes on for hours? Or game play until our hands cramp? How much time do we waste staring at pixels that come together and keep us apart from reality by forming a fake version of what is really going on all around us? Put down your technology piece of choice and engage.

Crossett is full of opportunities. In the coming days we have The Crafters’ Fair at the Crossett Farmers’ Market. These happen the last Saturday of every month. This month there will be a Valentine’s Day gift basket giveaway for those who attend. It is worth well over $300. Plus, the Crossett Animal Shelter will bring their adoptable dogs and provide a craft station for making mementos of your family pet. And then, of course, there’s the chance to fellowship with neighbors around our free coffee bar.

On Feb. 12, the Crossett City Auditorium will host a dueling pianos show in celebration of Valentine’s season. For less than what it would cost you to drive your date to a movie — an activity you can’t talk during, by the way — and dinner  — that is on one of the most crowded nights in restaurants — you can stay right here and treat your date to an interactive show. The Box office opens at 6:15 p.m. and the show starts at 7:15 p.m. Local entertainment will keep you engaged as you get seated and wait for the show. And proceeds will go to Auditorium repairs. Win, win.

This movement of community building that is inarguably happening in our town — made obvious through multiple activities ranging from organized litter pickup to individual attitude changes to fun events like our Ball Drop Block Party and reopenings of community centers like the Crossett City Pool — is an equal opportunity for each one of us.

Each one of us has an open door to the information and the right to join in whether it be by showing up or actually volunteering or working through funding.  And so this week, I end with a statement: Don’t sit on the sidelines picking apart what those on the field are doing. Join. Do. Be.

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