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Am I Really That Special?

Posted August 08, 2012 in Community Featured, Beaverdale, Des Moines West

2012 Des Moines West Side Chamber president, John Smith.

For those who know me, the following statement will not come as a surprise: I have this bizarre bi-polar personality that is overly self-effacing and deflecting while at the same time desperate for and feeding off of attention. Clearly, I am not the easiest guy to understand.

When “The Project” started, I was excited about the prospect of documenting my family’s ability to focus our commerce in the footprint of the West Side — with an unwavering commitment to not cross 63rd Street.  Part of my enthusiasm rested in the fact that this article would provide an opportunity to bring attention to me.

Since beginning this activity in January, I have been surprised by two things:
(1)    A lot of people read West Side Living magazine (congratulations to Big Green Umbrella Media). I have truly been shocked by the number of people who have approached me with their feedback regarding my family’s challenge. They have expressed enthusiasm for West Side Living and my short article. Truth be told, I expected everyone, including my wife and kids, to stop reading by February — actually, my family may have.
(2)    I have also learned that there are lots of Westsiders who regularly practice a similar commitment to our businesses and neighborhoods. Literally dozens of people have told me that they, too, live a similar commitment to support our local areas.

This second finding is affirming and encouraging in so many ways. Hearing passionate comments regarding the community we share is inspiring and motivating. However, their enthusiastic comments also reveal that I am not unique, distinctive or exceptional. I am simply one individual — and the Smiths are just one family — that share a common commitment. If this were some type of competition, the best I would deserve is a participation award.

While this realization negatively impacts that part of me craving attention, I can comfort myself with the fact that I am still part of something special. Certainly not as an individual, but I’m part of an exceptional community committed to many valuable and powerful characteristics. The West Side never seems content or complacent. We have aspirations and vision. We accept responsibility.  The West Side is progressive and committed to future generations. It is also a shared experience. Great communities are not created or elevated by individuals. Instead, vibrant communities are enriched by a collective strength.

Thanks to each of you for sharing your commitment to the West Side. As a community we are defined not by past accomplishments but instead by our greater promise and potential — and because of that, we are all pretty darn special.

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