Building a Better Wausau
by Tom Neal on October 5th, 2007
This may be one of my most “pet” causes … looking for and finding ways to make Wausau a better place to live. (Why? Because I and my family live here!) You may live in Mosinee, so whenever I write “Wausau” here, you could just as easily substitute “Mosinee” and apply it to your life, maybe altering a few details.
So, what am I on about here? This thing in front of your eyes “citizenwausau.com” is one example of people doing something new to contribute to the quality of life, quality of thinking, quality of discourse in our community. There are plenty others.
Too often, when we think about building a better Wausau (or Mosinee, whatever), we’re apt to think of the big-buck movers and shakers who pull strings and finance things and erect buildings. Yeah, we need those. Then there’s the volunteers, board members, professional networkers. Can’t do without ‘em. And, there’s the risk-taking entrepreneurs, the small business owners with humbly shallow pockets and seemingly inexhaustible grit (insert Mike Capista here). Bless ‘em all.
But what of the rest of us? How many working Joes and Janes decry the lack of this or dearth of that …
“We need more stuff for kids.”
“We need more nightlife.”
“We need a Red Lobster.”
“We need to attract our own homegrown college graduates to settle here in Wausau.”
Those may all be things we need, but what we especially need is more people “out there” doing things, making things happen, proposing ideas, taking up causes, providing support, rattling cages and yanking chains. More people lugging their guitar (or whatever instrument) to play on the sidewalk downtown like that one young lady I see from time to time. More people not just gawking at a street musician, but actually dropping a buck in the case. More sidewalk artists, even when it’s not sidewalk art day on the 400 Block. More businesses thinking up low- and no-cost ways to connect with the public in public. More grassroots Exhibitour-style event ideas, and people to follow them up. More concerts in Marathon Park. More volunteers. More people at city council meetings who aren’t just there to fight taxes or some zoning ordinance that cuts too close to home.
Less? Did I hear someone say “less?” What do we need less of? Complaints. Laziness. Egos. Complacency. Blaming. Television. Backseat drivers. Monday morning quarterbacks. Less bemoaning the loss of Scott Street and more energy directed toward establishing the next cool thing that can carry on its integrity and vibe. Case in point: many of us await the opening of the Fillmore in the old Rogers Cinema, yet how many of us extend help and support to those who are sticking to making changes in town.*
You know … I’ve heard Marcus and Dino and others (yours truly included) talk about the really cool things we love about cities like Chicago and the Big Apple or major college towns or smaller groovy, arty places we’ve come across or some other idyllic locale. The food, the street scenes, the cool peeps, the arts communities, the culture, events and all that jazz. And then talk turns to battling brain drain here and “wouldn’t it be great if we had a …?” and so on. It’s good to know that there are people “of the people” here in Wausau with passion and drive to help build things from the grassroots level. More often than not, they get nothing in monetary gain, and precious little in fame or glory for their efforts. But little by little they make things happen.
But we need more of THEM … maybe you can be one too. What’s your passion? What’s your talent? Your dream? Your resource? I’m so glad to see the many people who are busy building things here. I’ve lived in Wausau since spring of ’99 and the change has been dramatic. Be part of it, or if you already are, then maybe be a bigger part of it. Maybe lay out your dreams for all to chew on right here at citizenwausau.com and get new things started that way.
[* Publisher Note to Author - this sentence had no resolve, so I added, "to those who are sticking to making changes in town." so it would be coherent - though it may not be accurate. Please revise if need be.]