Uncle Wayne passed away early this morning (Sunday, October 16). With his passing, the majority of the generation I always viewed as the “older generation” in my family are gone and I am probably now part of the actual “older” generation of our family.
By chance, I was talking with my daughter about Uncle Wayne passing, and she happened to mention she had passed through a town we had lived in years ago, and she commented how shabby and rundown the town now appeared. She mentioned the houses appeared rundown, the streets and parks were in disrepair, and even some of what were considered the town landmarks and identity features are rundown and not maintained.
This started me thinking of two important trends that I feel affect communities:
1. Everything changes. What I considered the “older generation” is no longer involved in many of the events of our lives. No matter how much we want to stop the clock or change, we can’t.
2. Everything changes, but the actions of the current generation(s) currently involved shape the change, and so their/our actions are important.
For example, Uncle Wayne was involved in many community organizations and activities that are still strong in his community today because of his leadership and work. He died near the flowers he loved (he mowed his own year until last summer and activities nutured the flowers) and in the house they lived in for over 60 years. He contributed substantially in his time and money to his Church, which is still an active institution in his community. Another Uncle had a learning disabled child, and, due to my Aunt and his efforts, the community now has a strong “sheltered workshop” that will be there to assist future parents and children.
I could note a lot more of their actions and how they contributed and helped pass on a better “human infrastructure” for their communities. Both of their communities are strong, vibrant communities, while other communities literally waste away and become shabby shadows of the past. While certainly a lot of other factors impact this, active residents contributing to the community infrastructure (human, social and physical), are a significant factor in the sustained success of a community.
One of the goals of Lakeland is for “sustainability” and this permeates many of the decisions of the City and the Lakeland Boards and Commissions. I think when I think of major actions by the Lakeland Community, I think of “Leadership Lakeland”, an effort to develop “sustainability” and provide the leadership infrastructure for the future changes Lakeland faces. I’m sure that today’s Lakeland Leaders and residents do not want to come back (or look back) years from now and find that the Lakeland of today has diminished to where the community could be considered in “disrepair” or could not sustain itself.
These are some thoughts I had on hearing of Uncle Wayne’s passing and considering his accomplishments followed by my conversation with my daughter. I think the key is developing “community leadership” structure that can deal with the future change of the community.
Applications for appointment to Boards and Commissions will be taken by the Board of Commissioners in the near future. These Boards and Commissions are extremely important to the future of Lakeland, as they carry on and pass on the traditions of quality and sustainability to future generations.
However, many people do not have the time, or ability, or desire to serve on City Boards and Commissions. In reality very few people can or do serve on Boards and Commissions, but they find other valuable roles to fulfill in the community. I feel it is equally valuable that our residents maintain and pass on the concept of good citizenship, caring about the community and doing what you can to maintain and pass on the community to future generations as a better place.
I feel it is important for residents to coach or assist in recreational programs for our children, call City Hall if you have strong feelings about a city policy, practice “being a good neighbor” and participate in community activities if you can maintain and improve them for future generations.
While Uncle Wayne took life seriously, he also knew how to have fun. As a professional photographer (we have few pictures of him since he was always taking the pictues!), he knew how to "break the ice" and always had a funny story or an unusual gadget to impress both the adults and the children.
We'll miss Uncle Wayne, and will remember him and I know his community will also remember him as an active steward of the community resouces for future generations.