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Street Talk

Our Future: Choice Or Chance?

Joe Fratesi and Jeremy Murdock were here last Tuesday at the Water Valley Courthouse. They both work for the Stennis Institute for Government and Commun-ity Development at Mississippi State University. Their coming here was an instructional primer on how communities can develop and progress and do so as a collective effort. How to grow and still keep what we value. They gave presentation, an overview, of how planning works in rural counties and small communities in Mississippi. They opened with this quote from Richard Moe, who for many years was the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (Main Street is part of the National Trust). The quote is “Communities can be shaped by choice, or they can be shaped by chance. We can keep accepting the kind of communities we get, or we can start creating the kind of communities we want.”

I was happy to see that, because that is the challenge we’re facing.  That challenge is not only in the immediate present and near future, but also long term. Do we just let the cards fall where they may and take anything that comes our way?  

Do we just let anything happen for that matter? Are we that sedentary? Or do we 

come together and say this is where we are, here is what we like, and also what we don’t like. And where we want to be in the future.


Joe and Jeremy made a couple of points. Not one size fits all in this.  There is a place for almost everything and most people want protection from threats to their communities. They gave several examples of detrimental development. And several examples of positive progress – all in Mississippi.

The meeting at the courthouse, despite less than a week’s official heads up as to the exact date, time, and location of the meeting, was decently attended. Who is in charge of event promo with the county? I think they need a few tips. 

The crowd who came was decidedly older and given that this was a general discussion about where Yalobusha goes in the next quarter-century, I was thinking that many in the room might not see those 25. Or like me, if I am very lucky just might, but pretty sure will be at a stage where I won’t care anymore. Maybe it was the very weak effort in getting the word out about the meeting specifics that affected attendance. Hardly any of the 20 to 40-year-old folks who should be actively involved were there. And not a great turnout from city elected officials, only one was present.

Here’s the next meetings – Monday September 11 in Coffeeville at the Court-house, Tuesday, September 12th, at the Water Valley Courthouse; and Thursday, September 14, at Town Hall in Oakland. These meetings will be much more on specifics. You should make the effort. The upside of being small like we are is that your voice will be heard. You can participate in your future and have your say. Not every place has that possibility. Participation is the critical piece and 90 percent of future success is just showing up.

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