Tuesday, May 6, 2008

When the world came to Lake Wobegon

True story.

A young man from 56572 drove to Southern Otter Tail County yesterday to buy a truck from a private party. When he told the seller where he was from the seller said "We used to stop and get out of the car when we drove through Pelican. We don't do that anymore. We just drive through."

Last evening many 56572 residents gathered at the school to hear The Worner Report which says, in part, that one the causes of the school district's malaise is open enrollment, that people have a mistaken image of the school and the town that is not based on the reality as he sees it and that the solution is a stepped up public relations campaign by both.

I have new neighbors here in town. They bought the house of my neighbor of thirty years. We don't speak each other's language very well. I speak about as much of their language as they do of mine. Still we are neighbors who communicate by sharing food once in a while and recognizing one another if only by waving. They have kept the property up very well, in a way that the previous owner would be pleased with. I try to do the same. There is no fear factor or intimidation.

When one starts to fear one's neighbors it's you who has the problem, not your neighbor. Residents of Otter Tail County need not fear their neighbors in Pelican Rapids no matter what language we speak, what we wear or how different we look. The streets of Pelican Rapids are no more dangerous than those of Perham or Parkers Prairie, nor are the hallways of PRHS. It's just that the people using those sidewalks and hallways may be a bit different than those you are used to.

With the high price of gas may I suggest you take a day trip to Pelican Rapids? Start out at Historic City Hall, stop by an antique, gift, ice cream or coffee shop, walk in to Las Monarcas Supermarket or the Gar Gar Shop on West Mill, stop by the library, stay in town for lunch or dinner, maybe a soccer or a baseball game. Make a point of coming to the International Friendship Festival June 20-21.

You won't be crossing any borders, leave your passport at home. Just decide to do it, come here, find a place to park and get out of your car.


Anonymous said...

Most people would not think racism and bigotry are characteristics people in Otter Tail County have. Being newcomers to the area in the past few years, I have witnessed it firsthand, even if it was a minor event – most likely not even perceived by the person doing it. Minor event or not, it was still perceived by me, and still very offensive – and bigotry. I think people of Pelican are growing in tolerance more each day to live peaceably with others that may not look like them, speak the same language, or pray to the same Deity. I also believe PR has been on the right track for a while now, with 11 years of Friendship Festivals. We will see the biggest change with our youth - growing up together, going to school together, and becoming the adults of our town. People that live near us that have made up their mind of their beliefs will be the most difficult to reach – “We just drive through” would be an example of this. Some people don’t want to be helped. Open-mindedness and tolerance may be taught; but where narrow-mindedness and bigotry are prevalent, reaching out to them is as easy as catching the wind with a net – you can certainly try, but you may be wasting your time. One needs to focus their attention on themselves – be tolerant of others’ and they will reflect it back to you. I am proud to tell people I live in PR – to astonished looks on their faces. If that is the case, chances are, they’ve never been outside of Otter Tail County, and don’t know what a very large world we live in - together.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, well...that's all fine. However, I (who grew up in Fergus) spent 2 decades living in Los Angeles, and finally moved out. Why? You can't walk certain streets anymore due to the gang issuse, and in that case, they're primarily built of two races. Am I now a racist? No, but I AM biased against different cultures, and especially those who have no desire to integrate into our own, and come here thinking they're going to remake in THEIR image. You have a problem with that? I really DON'T CARE!

Anonymous said...

biased against different cultures? isn't that a different way of saying "racist"? I am becoming so weary of this 'fight' .. I love living in Pelican, I love that my children are ready for the 'real world' I love the kids in our schools.. they are amazing! Come take a look into the faces of our children and see if you can still 'hate' that they are different colors.

Maybe our declining enrollment started when we became more diverse in Pelican, the facts show this to be true.. but we need to deal with it and accept it not complain and be negative, we need to pass the referendum or our school and our town will be in serious danger.. if we don't have a school our property values will plummet,business's will close... Personally after the Worner meeting on Monday I was scared to death!

Ok.. I'm stepping off my soap box now :)

Anonymous said...

Addressing the post from May 7 at 5:07 PM: First of all, the last time I looked around this wasn't LA. There are no gangs here and the fact that we have business owners from many different races points to the fact that we are living as one community. Be careful with your statements like "integrate into our own" because I do not share your opinions at all. If you are scared to live in Pelican Rapids then you are simply showing your ignorance of the situation. Second, if you have such a strong opinion and want to lend any credibility to it, then at least have the decency to sign your name.

Auf Wiedersehen, Ciao, Hejda, Shalom, Adios, Paalam, Do zobaczenia, Dag or Goodbye. It all means the same thing.

Linnea Strand