Saying goodbye to family… Not in the typical ways. Not children who are moving away, or loved ones passing on, but those in our communities who mean everything to our continued existence who are leaving in one form or another. They actually may still live here but have already left too though. But before anyone takes this post in the wrong way…it’s not meant to be derogatory, but instead thought provoking and motivating. Maybe you are very aware of these things but like me, you just don’t have the answers to turn it around alone. There are a lot of us working in silos to change things and never manage to work together where there is power in numbers.
There are so many things that go against us. There are a lot of people who do their day to day necessity purchasing outside of the county. They may buy their groceries, gas, and toiletries at Walmart, Kroger, and Meijer and their hardware at Lowes or just wherever they may need items from and I’m not against that on occasion. Sometimes we can’t find everything we need local. However, when we leave town to do that, we are likely to eat out at large restaurant chains…not those family run food spots that we’ve known and grown up with all our lives. Or those newer places that are willing to give it all they have to make a go of it here.
Although shopping out of the county may save 10.00 on groceries, most people wind up eating out, spending a lot on gas to get there, and supported someone else’s economy---someone that they may never lay eyes on. They may wind up saving about 10.00 on groceries by buying them at a larger chain and was able to purchase a hamburger from McDonald’s for a buck, but what does that cost us as Owsley Countians? I’m not saying we should never be able to go out and enjoy what the rest of the world has to offer because we all need to do that from time to time. But what happens if we do that all the time? Local businesses can’t compete with that. Bigger cities and towns grow larger, and smaller ones dry up and disappear.
There are so many dedicated local businesses and organizations that support our sports teams, clubs and children. For them to continue to be there for that, we need to be there for them. When there are fewer available local resources, our children become interested in what they may find outside these county lines. More and more often our children choose to leave because there’s nothing left to stay for. As a domino effect---there will be fewer babies born into our community, fewer students in the classroom, less need for teachers, less need for bus drivers and less need for all of the county businesses that are needed to support the only resource we have worth saving in this county---our children.
Hopelessness has a stranglehold on a lot of our citizens by creating a drug issue that is so large that it hasn’t left a single family untouched in some form or another. Good people are being sucked in to selling their medicines to make a few dollars and others are being robbed of their lives and their families by addictions that are all consuming. Heroin is making serious headway in our county and children are losing their parents and mothers and fathers are losing their children and we’re losing our people.
When we stand back and do nothing, we wind up paying for it anyway. It depletes more resources to be reactive, instead of proactive. It has also created hopelessness in our children that there is anything left to stay here for. It has created hopelessness in those who want to work but can’t because there’s nothing that they are skilled to do. It also creates hopelessness when you witness apathy or lack of motivation and have no clue how to fix that.
Those county lines will be something that a lot of us will go across and come back across again and again because we’re just not ready to throw in the towel just yet. But…more and more these county lines are becoming the place where others leave and never come back to permanently, or whole, ever again. The more opportunity created, the more opportunities exist. If you’ve taken the time to read this long post, I want to thank you. If you an involved community member---please keep up the good work and if you’d like to know how you can get more invested---give me a call. You may feel like you don’t have much to offer, but if you have a heart and a compassion for this place---then that’s the biggest offer you can bring to the table. Your skills are just an added attribute! (Please take a look at attached photo the estimates for Owsley's population). Numbers are expected to shrink drastically by 2020. Most of the decline is in the young population ages 18 and under.