Makeover Your Own Hometown No Matter The Location

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2021

If you’re not familiar with the towns of Laurel and Wetumpka go to the HGTV website or google them. These are towns that have been brought back to life by resourceful and hardworking people who love their cities. I’m among the thousands of captivated viewers.As a result, many people want to move there, charmed by the beautiful homes, friendly peopleand the lights strung across the downtown streets, where life looks good from the front porch. But there’s a catch: dead weight eventually becomes a drain on any community. Excuse my pun, you can’t move to Laurel expecting to sit back on your laurels only to reap the benefits of a great comeback story.So today, I’m writing an open letter to anyone wanting to move to what seems like a better place, which I’ll refer to as “Laurel.” Yes, a television show can come to town and work magic, but I fully believe that any town or community can make it happen…. without the producers, scripts and audience; for after the paint dries and the cameras leave, it’s the people that are left. It takes a village, it takes an ongoing, ever-working village of citizens who are willing to participate in the success of their hometown to keep it going strong. Read on….Dear person wanting to move to Laurel,Please think about this before you start packing. Moving to Laurel will just be the beginning, all the good things about this hometown will only last if you get busy when you get there. Be prepared to get involved. Get out there, drive down town, take a walk down Mainstreet, window-shop, make new friends at the coffee shop; shop and eat locally, be friendly. A busy downtown is what prospective businesses and industries are looking for.Your neighborhood will need your attention too, starting on your own front porch. Put out the welcome mat and turn on the porch light. No cameras will be rolling when you’re mowing the yard or painting your house, but meet your neighbors and work together to keep your street attractive and inviting. Neighborhoods benefit from active, caring residents willing to invest thetime and effort.When you relocate to Laurel you automatically become a member of the Hometown team, the team that moves Laurel towards the finish line, which you’ll find out, always keeps moving. You’ll be required to roll up your sleeves and get busy. Rehabbing a town is hard work but also fun, satisfying and very rewarding. On that team you’ll have many positions to play: doer, supporter, encourager, cheerleader, always a fan but never a bench warmer. “Team work makes the dream work,” as they say.Most importantly you can’t hide when you get there. First, register to vote then meet the mayor, your city council representative or county supervisor. The Mainstreet Program and Chamber of Commerce have jobs waiting on you too. And, your community will be calling. Participate in community events, attend high school ballgames, support the band, join a civic organization, help out at the local food pantry, be a volunteer at the hospital or for the 4-H Clubs. You’ll find many opportunities to serve. Every Laurel needs and thrives on volunteers.

And you’ll need a history class. To keep a town moving forward, you must look backwards to understand where you are. Plan to immerse yourself in Laurel’s history, its people and places. Find out about the area, what’s worth saving, what’s significant, and why people love their hometown. You’ll find that “Yes” is contagious and I would hope you get a good case of it. “Can’t” is not a word used in Laurel, that word is frowned on. Learn to say “yes we can.”In Laurel you will learn to appreciate the arts. In case you haven’t noticed the arts, crafts and music are very important. Artisans are celebrated, applauded and given the opportunity to display their talents and abilities. That’s part of the charm of this town, so you’ll want to become a member of the local arts scene!So, if you’re willing to participate, go for it! Understand, though, that your dedication and support of your new hometown is vital. The sky’s the limit for any community whose citizens are willing to keep moving it forward. You’ll be needed to pick up the slack when it’s time for the older mover and shakers to pass the torch on to you. Newcomer status is short-lived.But wait, you actually don’t have to move to Laurel, or Wetumpka, or any place made famous by HGTV to find your perfect place to live. Nirvana can be right where you are. Everything that lovely Laurel will need you to do, can be done right where you are now, it’s up to you and you won’t have to pack up one single box. Every community needs its people to care, to be busy about making their hometown shine, as Erin Napier says every week “you just have to get up and do it!” Paint is just the first coat of a hometown makeover.