When my husband John and l visited our good friend, Sister Irma, at the Mother House in Dubuque, we encountered many cheerful nuns, and each posed the simple question, “where are you from?” With pride, we repeatedly answered Muscatine.
As l reflected after, l recognized my immense appreciation for living here. We have a great sized community, close to the natural treasure of the Mississippi; immense heritage and special history; schools filled with caring and committed educators; outstanding industry and business; strong faith-communities; talented local musicians; numerous parks, recreation and sports complexes; world-class art; short commutes; high-caliber, affordable college; proximity to metros; and a diversity of people.
But, as it turns out, these are not the topics we often hear discussed in our community. When listening to the undercurrent of conversation about Muscatine County, it can sometimes be negative in nature, focusing on the limitations.
Ben Winchester, a national keynote speaker and rural sociologist, says, “People don’t move to your town out of pity.” Touché. There are many diverse reasons we all choose to call Muscatine County “home,” but some choose to only wax about the weaknesses.
Let’s say, for example, Emily is married to Ryan. Emily could have picked anyone, but she chose Ryan. Ryan is kind, trusting, funny, innately family-oriented, and very smart – all of the things Emily was hoping for, but when she talks about Ryan, she only mentions that he can’t dance, doesn’t pick up his socks, has a bad haircut, and forgets to let the dog in. Through the choice of messaging, Emily has managed not to celebrate her good fortune to have Ryan in her life, but instead begins to sound a little melancholy.
Boom. Welcome to your marriage with Muscatine. The community is like Ryan, easy to fall in love with and rich in strengths. Be proud.
I once started to tell my mother-in-law something l didn’t like about one of her ten children. She abruptly cut me off and told me, with finger wagging, “All of my children have weaknesses.” As it turns out, so do all spouses, all friends, and all communities, but we choose them to be part of our life because of the strengths they offer, because of how they make us feel.
Take a moment and reflect on what is important about where you live. No place is perfect, but many are certainly closer to it.
The next person that asks where you live – answer and tell them why this brings you joy!
My name is Charla, and l am privileged to live in Muscatine County with neighbors like you.
By the way, I’d like to let you know that the Community Foundation is bringing Ben Winchester to our community virtually on multiple upcoming Fridays. He will be discussing the rural narrative and how we have it wrong, resident recruitment and how we all play a part, as well as having a dialogue on local housing needs and solutions. All sessions will be free and online from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and we would love for you to join us! For dates and registration go to https://benwinchester.rsvpify.com/ or call 563-264-3863.