To some people, the word ‘community’ evokes a sense of place, while to others, it refers to people as a group, and ultimately, both interpretations are correct. After all, what is a grouping of homes, businesses, and civic institutions without the people who create and inhabit them? And because we are all diverse and unique, even the most tight knit community has to function with an undercurrent of contrasting goals and dreams fueled by clashing tastes and personalities. That a place like a small town manages to function at all is a credit to a shared trait that crosses almost all socioeconomic boundaries: the love of where you live. When a community seems to stagnate, some of its members might begin to feel disenfranchised, and try to stoke conflict out of their frustrations. People who do not understand or share that perception will tend to fight back, digging in behind their own ideas. Gossip flies, cliques are formed, and petty squabbles get elevated to the forefront of public discourse, essentially fulfilling the negative impression that everyone should be unified against. We don’t have to agree with everything, but everyone should want to ultimately promote positivity towards the place that they call home. One way to elevate is to participate. Rochester is a town with a lot going for it: a beautiful lake that attracts visitors; a picturesque downtown with ever growing shopping and dining options; a dedicated local newspaper and radio station located smack dab in middle of the community they serve; and top notch public amenities like the library, the hospital, community parks, and more. Most of us already use these things to some capacity, but to ensure their continued vitality and to stimulate the growth of our hometown even more, we need to recognize the common goal of having a sustainable community. To be sustainable is to utilize the resources you already have to their maximum impact. Our most valuable resource, or course, is people. People who have plans, ideas, and organizations that are forward thinking in the service of the community need your support, as do people who may have become disenfranchised because of substance abuse, addiction, and mental health issues. By participating, volunteering, or contributing to these types of causes can be a benefit to all involved, and fosters a greater communication that helps to achieve the goals of the greater good. In the following pages, you will learn more about the goals and progress of the planned Makerspace destined to come to Rochester; meet the people spearheading the effort to raise awareness and participation in recycling through new initiatives; and discover how the arts are being used as a bridge for people in various stages of recovery to reestablish a connection to the rest of the community.
Photo provided by Dave Fincher