I realize we have probably talked the railroad crossings controversy to death, but one more point before we let that rest until the first of the year.
I have to say that I am deeply impressed with the way the people of Storm Lake have handled themselves on this issue.
In many places, a matter that has become this personal and emotional would not play out on such a high plain.
I don't think it was the police presence, the roped-off lines or the warnings against protest signs that kept the packed, overheated council meeting under control Monday, it was the basic decency and neighborliness of people in the community.
They know that you can achieve more with a quiet show of unity than you can by screaming or resorting to name-calling or threats. We all know that such things can happen, in a lesser community.
There was no booing when they were told that only one person would get a chance to speak to the issue for the public. People did not interrupt when the council members had their say, despite the fact that the conversation wandered a bit. They listened, because they know the value in hearing all sides. There was polite applause to a couple of points that people agreed with, but nothing that would draw a "shush" at a PGA golf tournament.
In Storm Lake, you handle issues by talking it out, forming petitions, organizing, researching the facts, motivating people to come to meetings. Not looting or vandalizing or divisive tactics. You realize that once the issue is solved, people you may disagree with will still be your neighbors, and can still be your friends.
In 25 years of covering city government, I don't recall this many people ever attending a council meeting, on any issue. As one person present pointed out, there was not even a fraction of the number of people turned out when the City was deciding to spend $10 million on Project Awaysis. Clearly, crossings matter.
Children sprawled on the floor, senior citizens. Multiple ethnic backgrounds, rich and poor, business people to educators, it says amazing things for our community that so many people are united to care about their town, its safety, its accessibility, its identity.
People like to say the railroad hasn't done anything for Storm Lake, but at least accidentally, I think it is doing something. It is making us a more aware, outspoken, engaged population that is thinking now about what it wants the future of its town to be like and standing up for it, and that could pay dividends long after this one issue is decided.
We may be upset, we may be emotional, we may be frustrated. We may not be San Diego, but we've stayed classy even in opposition. Proud of you, Storm Lake.
A couple of issues ago, we had a student-written story about Yik Yak, an anonymous, local social media app that is raising concern at BVU and elsewhere. I've been checking it out as a result. And while a psychiatrist may be right in calling it "the most dangerous app I've ever seen," one also realizes quickly that it, and any form of open speech, has some value as well. Among them, an outlet for young people's wit.
Here's a few posts collected from the site:
* "Ignores midterms. Ignored bank account. Pretending everything is completely okay."
* "I need to stop skipping legs day. But first I need to stop skipping arms, chest, shoulders, back, Calculus 2, and down the hall."
* "There's a kid in the library using Christmas lights as an extension cord."
* "Today my math TA was waiting for someone to answer his question and after a few moments of silence he said, 'I do math for a living, I can out awkward anyone.'"
* "Hey teacher. I'm not asking you to spoon feed me but don't give me one chopstick and tell me to eat chili."
* "If no one saw me wear it, then it's clean."
* "Spooning my boyfriend. Out of the container. It's ice cream."
* "There's a fine line between numerator and denominator."
* "Single and ready to act nervous around anyone I find attractive."
* "To the girl who just dropped her nicely typed up essay directly into a puddle: If you call it a day and go back to sleep no one's gonna judge you."
* "Heard some great wisdom today that I wanted to share: 'Nothing will ruin your 20s more than thinking you should have your life together already.'"
* "Five years ago today I asked a beautiful girl on a date. Today I asked her to marry me. She said no both times."
* "It's 2014 already. Why doesn't the Pringles can have the same spinny thing that's on the bottom of deodorant yet?"
* "If you're ever feeling alone or unwanted, just remember that there are billions of little bacteria inside of you that would be devastated to see you go."
* "Face Timing parents: 'We can't wait to see you again.' Me: 'Can you put the dog on the screen though.'"
* "If you watch the Lion King very closely you'll realize there's a lot of Simbalism."
* "That moment when you wake up Friday and realize it is a Wednesday."
* "I have so much debt, I could start a government."
* "The bookstore was robbed of $100,000 yesterday, The criminal got away with a textbook and a bottle of water."
* "#1 Parenting Mistake: not making your kid clean his room, do his laundry, or do dishes. Your kid becomes my roommate."
* "Choose a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life because that field isn't hiring."