In the past couple of months, I reported on a series of meetings in the town of Madawaska, that involved their recent budget crisis and how they were going to handle taking significant cuts to their budgets without losing essential services. The situation is so scary for all Madawaska residents – discussions for cuts included reducing full-time coverage from the police department and eliminating teaching positions (to the point that the local high school wouldn’t be able to offer enough math classes to prepare students for most colleges).
As awful as it is, the municipal departments and school board have poured sweat and blood over the numbers and tried to come up with solutions that would have the least negative impact on residents and local students.
As the journalist who is primarily covering this story in our area, I am unable to offer an opinion regarding proposed cuts, etc. I don’t actually mind withholding my opinion, because many (many) community members have spoken up and provided numerous perspectives about the issues at hand.
But what I can say and what I want to say is this: In the face of all this financial burden, of these hurtful remarks bandied about regarding other people’s intelligence or allegiances, and of our fear that our small towns will turn into ghost towns – I encourage us all to stay strong.To maintain courage in the face of an economy that seeks to destroy us.
To stand up for small communities and rural living and not lose sight of their inherent value.
To extend our ideas of family and neighbors to include those beyond our bloodlines and our blocks.To inspire each other to come up with creative solutions for unsettling problems.To respect each other’s ideas and beliefs and speak with intention our purpose and opinions.
To continue to love what makes us unique – our language, our landscape, our friendly merchants, our hard-working farmers and mill workers.
Keep the faith, northern Maine. We’re a people that have faced obstacles before and, just like our ancestors, we have it in our blood to fight for our livelihood.I love my small town. I can’t wait to share it with my hypothetical future children. And, from what I know of our tenacity and perseverance, it’ll still be around. The same pizza place. The same craft store. The same orange sign that starts to spin and twirl in the spring when the ice cream place is open for the season.
They’ll be here. We’ll be here. We’ll get on the other side of all this, up here, far away from the eyes of policy makers, the movers and shakers. Even if it seems we’ve been forgotten, we won’t truly be lost until we forget ourselves – the nature of the way we are and why it’s worth everything to keep it around.