The Write Stuff – Deb Hadachek
I followed the story of the cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal with great interest and sympathy last week.
Anyone who has ever worked themselves into a difficult position trying to parallel park a modest-size sedan on a busy city street with their husband in the passenger seat giving directions has to feel deep compassion for the captain manning a loaded ship the size of the Empire State Building with the entire world watching and the global economy hanging in balance.
And dozens of ships backed up either way waiting to pass.
I’m speaking hypothetically, of course.
Of course, I can parallel park.
The easiest way to parallel park is to circle the block until you find at least a half a block of empty spaces so you can drive straight into one of them.
I can parallel park perfectly using that technique, every single time.
Even if it’s a few blocks from where I’m going.
That way I don’t have to fight traffic when I leave.
In the realm of “Whoa, I didn’t see this coming”:
I’ve followed the Kansas-Nebraska Heritage Tourism Partnership discussion for several years, since Republic County is included in its proposed boundaries.
Their focus is to work together to try to find ways to get people who visit the Willa Cather site in Red Cloud, NE, for instance, meander down to the Pawnee Indian museum at Republic and maybe over to the Hollenberg Pony Express station near Hanover.
Suddenly I discover the people involved in this partnership–many who run museums and historic sites few local people ever visit–are alleged to be a bunch of nefarious, cloakand-dagger, evil-doers plotting to take over control of the country for their own hellish purposes.
Maybe we should call them a cartel, not a partnership.
But probably not. Probably, they are exactly who they appear to be: smart, well-intentioned people who understand that tourism and the dollars associated with people who stay and eat and spend money in our communities are a commodity our counties–and businesses–needs to grow.
My mentor, former Telescope publisher Merle Miller, could never understand why people could not see what a gold mine the county has in the Premium Feeders feedlot at Scandia.
“People from foreign countries would spend money to come here and watch real cowboys at work,” he would tell me. “The ‘Wild West’ fascinates travelers from other countries.”
People who sit on the KS-NE Heritage Partnership board say they’re on a fact-finding mission. Anyone who has proof of negative impacts from NHAs in other regions need to pony up that information.
The partnership has been meeting for years to talk about the possibilities, and any official NHA proposal (which requires Congressional approval) could take years more to develop.
This discussion didn’t start January 20 when President Biden was sworn into office. Former President Trump signed a law to create six National Heritage Areas in 2019. Every administration since Reagan has had a hand in creating the 55 existing NHAs in the US.
A paper developed by the Congressional Research Office in February lays out facts about NHAs, as well as concerns of those who oppose the program: (https://fas.org/sgp/ crs/misc/RL33462.pdf).
Many people in this region still steam over an essay written nearly 40 years ago by two researchers who suggested 139,000 acres in 10 states, including Kansas, should be returned to a ‘Buffalo Commons’.
The essay’s authors are not wrong that our population in the Plains has been in a freefall for decades. They perhaps misjudged how mechanization of agriculture allows fewer people to produce more and more agricultural products every year.
They are not wrong that we should all care about good management of water resources.
A ‘Buffalo Commons’ won’t be something that anyone will intentionally create.
But it could happen naturally if we don’t get serious about finding ways to attract people and business.
Perhaps it will be decided that the National Heritage Area program isn’t the best option for this region.
But kudos to all those who work to do something–anything–positive to show off this region, to develop its potential, and to address new ways to build revenue streams and broaden our tax base.
If only more people worked as hard to make a positive difference in the world as the negative energy they expend to cook up conspiracy theories and shout from street corners about “why that won’t work”.
If only … it was as easy to do the work of others as it is to criticize their performance.