Avoid Complacency to Remain Exceptional

For the past 9 months, I have had the privilege of living and working in Valley County. As an advisor to several boards and a servant to many more, I have become acquainted with truly unique and exceptional people. This is only fitting because Ord and the surrounding area is a unique and exceptional place. From its scenic location at the foot of the Sandhills to our successes that are admired and celebrated far beyond the confines of Valley County, this is a truly exceptional place. I have recently shared the lengthy list of these successes so out of respect for your time, I will save that list for another day. Just understand that there have been remarkable levels of public-private investment in the area and that Ord’s model for rural development is repeatedly admired and recognized nationally.  

Attitude has been a major driver for community development in Valley County over the past decade. I am referring to two attitudes in particular: rural exceptionalism and concern (or a lack of complacency). Rural Nebraska differs drastically from our urban counterparts in many regards, from the natural and built environment to community development practices and attitudes. Rural exceptionalism does not imply superiority or elitism but recognizes these differences. Simply put, those who subscribe to this ideology tend to believe that their community IS special, that it IS worth fighting for, and that they MUST take action to maintain and enhance the quality of life that is quintessential to rural America. Much if not most of rural Nebraskans subscribe to this creed and believe that they can create a prosperous future for their communities. What I believe to be unique to Ord and the surrounding area is the gumption to take action.

One of the greatest threats to prosperity in the Loup Valley is to unsubscribe from the belief that our communities are unique, special, and exceptional. Without this driving motivator, some of our greatest human capital will become disengaged from community development and we will all be the worse for it. The second greatest threat is an attitude of complacency. Development in the Loup Valley has occurred not because residents sit idle to let whatever happens happen. Rather, residents feared for the future of Valley County as a result of a variety of realities: sharp declines in population, businesses closing without new ones opening, and diminishing export income flowing into the community. As a result, they became engaged and laid the groundwork to achieve a future deemed appropriate for generations to follow.  They refused to be complacent. To me, the phrase “Because we’ve always done it that way” is equivalent to finger nails on a chalk board. It is a very dangerous attitude because it suggests an unwillingness to change and indicates a strong sense of complacency.

Understand that we are in an exceptional place with exceptional people. We have the resources, infrastructure, and the expectation to do wonderful things and remain at the forefront of rural development. For the greater good of our communities and the next generation, please welcome change and do not give way to complacency. ~ Trevor

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