February 2, 2011 10:37:00 AM
Since college, people from Texas have fascinated me. It started when my college roommate and good friend, Rashaad Primm, told me he was from Dallas. He said it differently than any person I had ever met from any other state. He spoke of Dallas with such pride (and borderline arrogance) that I mocked him to hide my envy. Rashaad was always telling me and whoever would listen how great it was in Texas; how much fun he had as a kid and teenager; how great the nightlife was in downtown Dallas; and, his favorite: how the women were all beautiful.
As I''ve encountered more people from Texas, I''ve learned that many share this pride. They love to tell you the history of the Alamo in San Antonio or brag about the Riverwalk. They are quick to tell you how wonderful it is to shop at the Galleria in Houston or how many people go to the state fair in Dallas. Of course, they have never had any barbecue or Mexican food quite as good as in Texas. Then, there''s the worst: They love the Dallas Cowboys.
As annoying as this Texas pride can be, I''ve also come to admire it. Somehow the people of Texas have created a positive psych amongst their citizens about their cities and state. Because of this, natives are more likely to stay in Texas and more people from other places want to move there.
Recently, I took part in an attempt to create positive energy in Columbus. I was humbled and grateful to be asked to speak at Columbus High School''s spotlight dinner Thursday evening. The event showcased the students and the programs available at CHS. I don''t think any reasonable person could have attended that event without being impressed. No, not impressed, overwhelmed and proud.
Events like the spotlight dinner are a necessary step to creating a positive psych for Columbus. In my experience, what people are saying about a place really matters. If they are talking about all the crime, or the high school dropout rate, or how there''s nothing to do, then those complaints become self-fulfilling.
On the other hand, if they are talking about the high school''s wonderful gospel choir or the Seventh Avenue Festival or the new sports bar downtown (Fire Station) or Simeon Weatherby''s "Dinner Theater" event, than that motivates people. It gives people a reason to be positive about Columbus. It gives them something to brag about to their friends.
Positive beliefs and aspirations also motivate others to work to make improvements. When people see positive examples, they are more likely to volunteer for an after-school program or mentor a child or go to a downtown bar with friends.
Instead of complaining about what a civic organization isn''t doing, they are more likely to start a new group to offer fresh ideas. Instead of ranting about the landscaping on Highway 45N, they are more likely to suggest the businesses on 45 create an association. (Cheers to councilman Bill Gavin).
That''s not to say we should ignore the problems in our city. We must be honest about how we can improve our community. We should think and talk about the negative and strive to make the necessary changes. This is an important step in creating a positive psyche as well. Without improvement, a community becomes stagnant.
At the same time, it''s important to get the focus and balance right. Texas has problems. Rashaad will admit that. Nevertheless, he doesn''t let the problems take away his positive outlook of his hometown, but instead he uses the problems as motivation. We should keep a positive outlook as well. This creates a positive, can-do ethos, and, in the long run, it increases the chances our natives will stay here or move back, or, quite possibly, convince others to make Columbus home.
Scott Colom is a local attorney. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Colom is a local attorney.