Make them want to come to Wadena
I believe that I was asked to write this month's installment because I am new to town. Perhaps I can offer a fresh perspective relative to my new city and what it has to offer. I may notice things about Wadena that you do not. I may notice things that you have become so accustomed to that you no longer realize how great they are. I may be able to provide some insight into areas where our community could benefit by taking simple actions.
What makes a city like Wadena a community? It's the people. I was not here to see the community pull together and help one another during the tornado. However, I have received a Christmas card from my realtor, I have had my daughter tell me how much she likes her teacher and daycare provider and I have enjoyed a beer at the expense of new friends. When you have great people in your community, an easy way to improve your community is have them involved. I once served on a board of directors and as part of a board workshop I was the first person asked, "Why are you serving on this board?" I responded, "Because I was asked to do so." To my surprise, almost every other board member said the same thing. The lesson I learned that day is sometimes all you have to do is ask. Being a part of a worthwhile community project not only helps to improve the community, but it helps you feel good about yourself.
When moving to Wadena from the Iron Range became a possibility, I did what most people do nowadays. I went on the Internet to see what Wadena had to offer. Frankly, I didn't find much. Wadena does have a lot to offer, we just have to show that to others. When I got here, I toured the most impressive high school that I have ever been in (and I have been in a lot of them). I played hockey at the new arena. I took in a Christmas light show, the likes of which I had only seen on television. I went cross-country skiing in the beautiful Black's Grove City Park. I caught a movie at the best theatre in the state. I also had dinner with the Minnesota Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Gildea's message was that we should not be afraid to promote our community and let everyone know how great we are. So how do we do that? Promoting our city online is a start. We live in an instant gratification society. If people don't like what they see immediately, they will move on. Let's make it so that we are not passed over. We can show people that our city has something that their city does not, which in turn will make them want to come to our city. For instance, how many area cities are going to have a community center such as ours? Another upside of a strong online presence is that it appeals to young people who are the future of our community. If we are going to communicate with the youth of our city, we should be prepared to do it in the mediums that they use.
I learned the hard way as to how many people pass through Wadena when trying to cross Highway 10 on the Friday before deer season. Though I will never get those 10 minutes back, it did make me realize that a lot of people pass through our city on a daily basis; we just have to get them to stop. If we can get them to stop, they will likely leave some of their hard-earned money in our city. Perhaps if we had a unique sign directing people downtown, more traffic would be diverted there. Perhaps if we had a cool monument or sculpture that is unique to Wadena, people will stop to check it out. If people don't stop, they are not going to be able to meet the people that make the community so great and see why people like us want to live here.
Adam J. Licari is an attorney at the law firm of Kennedy, Carlson and Van Bruggen in Wadena. Stop in and introduce yourself to the new guy in town.