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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

Carpet Ride

As a dad I can vividly remember watching the Disney movie Aladdin again and again and again with my daughter Bailey. At one point I could even recite each of the characters’ lines by heart.

The main character Aladdin wants to win the heart and hand of the beautiful Princess Jasmine. Unfortunately, he’s a “street rat” and she’s a princess. Lucky for him, he stumbles upon a genie who offers to grant him three wishes. He uses his first wish to turn himself into a prince in order to woo Jasmine with an unseemly gaudy entourage that includes a magic carpet. He takes Jasmine around the world on the carpet and she falls for him. The idea of a magic carpet has always fascinated me. Who hasn’t dreamt of taking a ride?

Enough of the animated fantasy– fast forward to the reality of today. It has happened to most all of us at some point in our lives. We are standing there, going about our life, everything going fairly smooth, and then with a huge SWOOP, the carpet gets pulled right out from under us.  Suddenly, we find ourselves lying flat on our backs, staring at the ceiling with the wind completely knocked out of us, trying to figure out what the heck just happened.

As you all know last week Tama County learned that the Iowa Juvenile Home is scheduled to close on January 16. All 21 girls currently in the home will be relocated to other facilities, and 93 staff members will be laid off – SWOOP!! carpet… gone.

I have been amazed at the groundswell of action from the people of Tama County since the press release. We had a critical choice; it would have been easy to become broken and bitter and to rant and rave. But instead we elected to become stronger and wiser. We directed our frustration to the injustice and unfairness and channeled it into good.  It was refreshing, in this day in age, to see people’s outrage propelled into positive action.

As we process what has happened, and continue to manage the frustration, anger, and all the other emotions that we have all felt, we need to keep in mind that times of great change can be times of great self-discovery. It was John F. Kennedy, Jr. that said “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters- one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”

As crazy as it may sound, the rug that was pulled out from under us might actually turn out to be a magic carpet, if we can hang on tight and go along for the ride instead of letting it knock us out.

At the end of the movie, Aladdin shows his true character; when he uses his last wish to set his all-powerful genie free. THE LESSON LEARNED – life is rarely perfect and it’s almost never easy. But in the end, it’s up to us—and no one else—to make something of it. Let’s turn that nasty rug from last week into a magic carpet ride.

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