Welcome

Like many of you reading this, I have only a vague recollection of my courses in college.  In my case, buried somewhere under the logic and theory that goes with an engineering education, is a fuzzy recollection of English classes.  I don’t believe it was a course specific to Journalism, but I remember learning somewhere chief tenants of the trade were the questions “Who?  Where? What? Why? and How?.”  While this column will probably never qualify as journalism, I’ll at least start by trying to play by the rules.

First of all the “who” question.  Some readers will know I am a native of Northern Michigan, Iosco County specifically.  I left the deeply grooved lifestyle that is “Up North” when I was about 18 and two minutes and went everywhere else.  And before you knew it, 20 some years had passed and I was a long way from home, my young family was restless and I wanted to quit.  So I did.

And I came home.  Sort of.  As a kid I’d spent a lot of time in the Tri-Cities and rents were cheap, so I settled my family in Bay County and began to look around.  I’ll admit, even for a guy who thought he had seen everything; the extent of the economic collapse in this area was an eye opener.  Every solution seemed to look to Lansing.   And Lansing looked to Washington.  And nothing got done.  And “everyone” went broke.  Michigan had for all intents become a welfare state, with very few people working to support an aging, changing, in many ways decaying, population.  It wasn’t an area in need of a fix; it was an area in need of a miracle.  Or in more secular terms, a revolution.

Actually, the Great Lakes Bay Region has participated in a few economic revolutions since the Europeans first arrived and took survey of the indigenous resources.  From trading to logging to transportation, if not the center, the area was central to many waves of progress that later spread across the rest of the land.

Of course you have guessed that the “what” I am leading you into the idea of another revolution.  A Green Revolution.  A grassroots revolution where we live in a sustainable fashion, benefiting from the wisdom accumulated in our own communities, achieving rewards through responsible behavior, with compensation distributed more evenly to those that make enhance the cultural richness of our communities.  Not every valuable member of our community is a “professional.”  Some just act and manage and serve that way.  Some are just our own troubadours, local in reach but global in the scale of their talents and abilities.

I think that brings us up to “why”?  Well first of all, take a look at your bank statement.  If it looks anything like mine, you get it.  We need economic help and, once again, it looks like we are poised and ready to take advantage of another revolution: in energy.   From basic materials through highly advanced intermediate products, the Big Three of Dow, Dow Corning and Hemlock Semiconductor have actually been involved in the alternative energy business since its conception, as suppliers or technology, products and ideas to the alternative energy business.

Now that the market has finally started to catch up to the vision, these three companies are leading a wave of change in the area.  New companies are forming in the area: fabricators and companies that employ the products produced in Midland and Hemlock.  It’s similar to the pattern growth that preceded each of the last few booms.  Only this time it is the Tri-Cities at the center, rather than as a spoke.  To many of us in the industry and in the political arena, regardless of affiliation, the Great Lakes Bay Region would be a great place for the center of the Green Revolution.  It gives us a great chance to stamp our community values on these companies and on an industry. These companies and our the whole region could potentially be transformed by the scope of the energy revolution.

So how might you do this?  What do I have to do to be a revolutionary?  For now, why not try one of these:

  • Don’t wait for a job. Take a risk.  In fact, take a bet on yourself.  Start a business.  Better yet, start a non-profit.  But never forget that frugal living is central to the concept of self employment.  Fortunately or unfortunately, we have plenty of local experience at stretching a dollar.  Let’s benefit from it.
  • Get educated or learn a new skill.  Even if you are sitting on a couple of college degrees or feel you have a stable job, go learn something new.  You meet new people, pick up new skills and run into ample new opportunities to expand your mind.  Try a community college.  You wouldn’t believe what all they teach there.
  • Don’t waste opportunities.  Keep yourself ready to be part of an economic recovery.  Really, I want you to think of it like baseball, but with a 200,000 person batting order.  If it is your turn up and you whiff or, even worse, never report to the batters box, we never get that chance back.  That’s not just your chance, it’s all of ours.  Please take advantage of it. Your best effort will be fine, thank you.

In the meantime, there is one other “how” we can employ to make a real difference, beginning today.  Why not just “Do a Nice Thing.”   For anybody.  You don’t even have to let anyone know.  But you might just find that if you make a habit of helping people when they need it or lifting them up when they are down, the opportunities we were talking about a minute ago pop up more often.  Karma can be a teddy bear too, you know.

All that and Vote Green.