The last two years have tested society in a multitude of ways. From sudden business and school shutdowns to extreme weather to the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, collectively, we have all been trying to make the best of unusual circumstances. The caveat is we don’t always agree on how we handle these challenges.
You may remember that we had to postpone the Ames Chamber Annual Event last month due to the forecasted windstorm. As the forecast developed, we brainstormed Plans B-Z. Team members shared their varying opinions and after a pragmatic discussion in which we weighed all our options, we came to a consensus that postponing the event, while not ideal, was the best decision for the greater good.
As we were making our decision, neighbors were helping each other prepare by moving things indoors, picking up supplies in case of power outages and checking in on each other. Without hesitation, our community came together to hunker down and ride out the storm. This is the kind of camaraderie we need to nurture not only when there’s a storm on the horizon, but throughout the year.
I am calling on all residents of Ames and the greater Story County region to commit to a return to civility and an extra measure of grace for one another. The times we live in are unpredictable at best and we can’t change what is going on elsewhere in the country or world, but we can change what is happening here at home.
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Instead of digging in our heels, listen to understand. Be quick to find common ground. Exercise wisdom when engaging in contentious discussions. Ask questions and strive to reach compromise. Come to the table with ideas and solutions rather than excuses or opinions. People will notice and in time, quite possibly, the divisiveness we see in our culture will be replaced with eagerness to work together.
In order to attract the talent we need to continue to grow our workforce and local economy, it is crucial that our community is exceedingly welcoming to all who choose to make Ames their place to live, work and play. We can only accomplish that by returning to a higher level of civility.
As an employee, teammate, mentor, leader, friend, neighbor, do your part to make Ames the epicenter of diverse thinkers working together to serve the greater good. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday earlier this month, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from him: “Life's most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?””
Dan Culhane is president and CEO of the Ames Chamber of Commerce
This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Ames Chamber leader: Let's reclaim civility in 2022