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Friday, November 13, 2009

Can Janesville Overcome Community Divide For July Fourth?

Here we go again. Thursday’s news of the Odd Fellows dropping the July 4th community fireworks event in Janesville was not a surprise. Apparently, they could not attract enough "community" business donors (see Rock County advisory council 5.0) to sponsor the event. Again, no surprise. However, soon after that story broke in the Janesville Gazette, the Rock Aqua Jays announced they are forming an exploratory committee to consider taking on and hosting the Fourth of July festivities in Janesville.

I sincerely wish the Rock Aqua Jays all the luck and success in the world regarding this venture.

As a citizen who has been following the area's socio-political divide, there’s a lot to be said about the community spirit or lack of spirit here in Janesville. With that, I salute both the Jaycees and the Odd Fellows for stepping up to the plate for their efforts over the past years. They exemplify “when the going got tough – the tough got going” and gave it their solemn best despite shortfalls in money, manpower and community support. Folks should now be able to get a better understanding of what not only the Jaycees were up against, but what this entire “community” event is up against with or without a good economy. It’s brutal.

Just for instance. Looking over the past three years, the Jaycees had the full efforts of some local folks who think they own God, country, family and patriotism working diligently against them. The Janesville city council would reluctantly agree to offer park and police services for the event, but not until they thoroughly scolded the event spokesperson for not having their finances up to the council's standards. And our monopolized media played a huge part disseminating an anti-social if not totally weird campaign against the event while a religious organization believe it or not, cast stones at the Jaycees. After that, I felt right at home supporting the Jaycees if you know what I mean. But that’s what many of us call home here in Janesville. It’s an institutionalized “us against them” mentality. The Gazette, being a 165 year-old institution, obviously plays the leading role in this point of view. I can proudly say this 3½ year old blog is a direct result of that environment.

I now recall back in 2007 when someone identifying themselves as a member of the Jaycees emailed me the event schedule and asked if I would post it on my blog. I immediately obliged. With that small gesture of community spirit, I decided to go even further and created a small animated ad with exploding fireworks for the Jaycees and ran it free of charge in the blog’s sidebar for several weeks leading up to the event. Perhaps only a few hundred blog visitors had seen the ad at the time, but that wasn’t the point. It was the idea that someone in their group took the initiative to reach out regardless of their politics or religious point of view. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the Odd Fellows.

For whatever their reasons, I never received a communication or schedule of events from the Odd Fellows. No big deal. Not that that is a barometer of community outreach, but I do offer a free bulletin board for posting such events and activities. But I also remember checking out the Gazette’s Web Page for a schedule of events - and do you know what I found? The Gazette’s sidebar listing under “Most Emailed” did contain a link for the schedule of the Janesville July 4th events…except the schedule was from the year before! That didn't help, but they made an effort and that's what counts I suppose.

In slight contrast, it looks like the Rock Aqua Jays have the organizational skills to fund raise and plan the event, but can they overcome the media inflicted anti-social virus and built-in opposition that has ravaged the previous community organizers? If anything it’ll be interesting to watch and you can bet I'll be taking notes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your tag at the bottom "religion" says it all.

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