The tipping point

It has taken me a few days to really absorb what happened in American Falls on Saturday, Aug. 3. American Falls Days were a great success that culminated on Saturday. The excitement surrounding the many events going on around the community was contagious and a bit overwhelming, in a good way.

There are many times that I have to wear many hats at the same time or in rapid succession. This is one of those times that I am changing my hat. As the President of The Greater American Falls Area Chamber of Commerce I am elated. The work of the board of directors, chamber members, and residents of our community was impressive. It was obvious everyone that attended any of the American Falls Days events that this community is loved and a source of pride. While I am still wearing my Chamber President hat; thank you from the chamber and thank you from me personally for such a wonderful few days.

Taking off the Chamber President hat and putting on The Power County Press Commentator hat, I will start out by saying I am so impressed with, not only the outcome and team work that went into American Falls Days, but with the cheerful nature all those involved had.

In this space I have tried to look at wider concepts, usually by giving a local perspective to state and national issues.

I believe there may be larger implications to this year’s American Falls Days.

Thomas L. Friedman is an author who writes about sociological ideas and uses examples from the business world to illustrate his points. In his book The Tipping Point, Friedman contends there is a confluence of small, but meaningful events prior to major change.

Little things coming together acting as a catalyst. A small change in postal regulation and a coffee shop meeting between a couple of local truckers leading to the rise of Old Dominion Trucking that further led to the boom in private shipping.

Friedman has many examples that indicate his theory has merit. I believe American Falls Days may be a tipping point on a local level.

Worry Fatigue is the idea that people eventually become tired of worrying about stuff. It seems to me the nation as a whole is reaching that point. The economy is down, there are fewer jobs, the cost of education is going up, the list goes on and on about the things to worry about.

All of the things we worry about have a couple of things in common that are easy to spot. They are all about money and how to get enough. They are all concerns shared nationally.

There is one thing our national concerns have in common many may have not yet considered: they are all concerns we have been TOLD we should worry about. National media, legislators, the president, all TELL us we should be down trodden.

Do we really have to be so morose?

One of the advantages of being a smaller community is we can ignore many of the national concerns that plague larger cities, even ones the size of Pocatello. We are still in that size range where we can take care of our own. The type of community spirit I saw could easily translate into individual acts of kindness to keep everyone going.

It looked to me as our entire community came out in strong support of American Falls Days because there were new things to see and experience, but also because collectively we needed to blow off some steam. American Falls seemed to say “we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Let’s have some fun.”

Nationally, our leaders have tried many things to remedy the problem. Some right and some wrong. At this point it seems like the current political approach to energizing our country is like cooking spaghetti: throw it all against the wall and see what sticks. Maybe the lack of a solid plan stems from trying to balance so many competing interests, or it is a product of stubborn partisanship, either way we have the choice to follow along and slog through the national stupor or to take our own paths.

I can see how the positive atmosphere on Saturday, Aug. 3, could have fostered a small conversation between people about an idea that could create more jobs in the area. The difference between that conversation and previous conversations was this time it was about “how can we…” not “this is why we can’t…”

In many ways American Falls Days were just what they appeared to be: a fun time that breaks up the routine. It also could have been the tipping point for American Falls that starts our own climb out of this current slump because we decided, on one positive day, to be the masters of our own universe.


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