I like to envision. I like to plan. I like to dream.
I’ve been pleased to serve on the board of the Young Professionals of Stillwater and cochair the "Bring it to Stillwater" committee. This committee is tasked with making Stillwater a more vibrant community. Making it a place where our college kids want to stay, and our kids and our grandkids want to come back to.
We started off with data. We started off with a narrow focus; and that was to see if we can recruit a new restaurant to town. We surveyed the folks in town; we got to experience through that survey what it is that people are going out of town to experience and enjoy; and what they would love to see right here in our backyard. That was an interesting experience for me. Everyone you meet has different experiences, has different backgrounds, has different lives that they’ve led; and their experience just enriches our life.
So, of course, Covid hit, and those plans slowed down but I think we got some other interesting insights during this time. One of which being that we can reimagine the way we work. A year ago it was the cool tech companies, or the cool fringe companies, that were doing remote working in a big way. Now fast forward to March-April 2020, and all of a sudden everyone’s working at home. So, it can be done.
What does that mean for our communities, though? To me, this is an exciting question because I think this means that we can build a vibrant community faster and better than ever. Before, if you’re in your chosen profession, you’ve got to go to where the work is. Now you can bring the work home, and you can pick where that home is.
I am excited at the prospect of bringing our Cowboys home. Stillwater Oklahoma is the home of the Oklahoma State Cowboys. We love our football, we love our red dirt, and we love our hometown. Stillwater's been a great place to grow up and then it’s been a great place to return to as a young professional. Now that we know that people can move and are mobile in their careers, I think now is the perfect time to ask folks to come home.
I can just imagine a community where we have highly skilled professionals moving back, working remotely from home or co-working centers or other things we haven’t even envisioned yet, but bringing those jobs and bringing those families back to Stillwater. I think anyone who grew up in Stillwater or went to college in Stillwater has great memories here.
Now is a perfect time–if anyone’s ever thought, "man I really would love to move back to Stillwater,"–now is the time they can do it. So, that’s an exciting thought to me. Something that I am hoping for on this day–on Wednesdays (I like to call it "what if Wednesdays") where we can dream and think big things–that’s the thought kind of kicking around in my mind today. How do we get folks to move home?
So, I’m excited. I think that there’s tons of opportunity and I hope that this inspires you to 1. Take some time to dream (don’t forget to dream); and 2. Consider, over the past year what our collective experience has been, and what is the takeaway? I think the biggest takeaway is–we really have more say in how our life is going to go than maybe we thought before. So, if you’re a Cowboy out there watching this–come back. And if you’re a young professional who just wants to come to check it out–come check it out.