Every job comes with some unexpected perks. While I spend several nights a month covering meetings, many of which are drier than dust, Tuesday I got to do something new. I was asked to be a judge for the district spelling bee. It’s the most fun I’ve had in ages. Yes, I know that reveals my not-really-hidden inner nerd and predilection for staying at home all weekend.
I was impressed by the number of parents and family members who came out in the cold on a Tuesday for the bee. I was even more impressed by how well the participating students did and how they encouraged one another. It’s good to see kids competing academically.
Local sports tend to garner a great deal of attention in small towns. Sporting events provide social gatherings for adults and kids alike, keep the kids busy and teach them the importance of physical activity, teamwork, sportsmanship and more. But sports shouldn’t get all the attention, either. Academic achievements need to be recognized as well. Spelling bees and knowledge bowls are ways for the general public to get involved in that same atmosphere of competition enjoyed at sporting events.
Much to my amazement, I’m now a member of a local board, and this time not by accident. (The editor of the newspaper is appointed to the Fairfield Trust committee by default.) I am honored to have been chosen to serve as a board member and officer for the Rio Blanco County Historical Society.
New board president Terri Ruckman-Reed’s story about her ancestor who got caught in “traffic” between Meeker and Rifle has stayed with me. The wagon in front got stuck in the mud, holding up the rest of the travelers. (Not much has changed on that road, apparently.) At the end of the line, Terri’s relation unhitched his team, led them to the front of the line and hitched them to the stuck wagon. The other wagons followed suit, and together they pulled the stuck wagon out of the mud so everyone could move forward. By working together they made progress. (Washington, D.C., could learn a lesson from our humble RBC pioneers.)
Radical independence and self-righteous self-sufficiency are admirable values, but if we want to move forward, it requires a bit of self-sacrifice and some basic, logical community cooperation. Sooner or later the one in the lead is going to be the one stuck in the mud. We might have moved beyond wagons and stagecoaches, but we haven’t evolved so far we don’t need to work together for our mutual good.