Resolvers take the day when it comes to community E-mail
Opinion
Saturday, 22 February 2014 11:16

By L&T Columnist Rachel Coleman

The realization may have arrived as I slapped sandwiches together one morning, or perhaps reality dawned on me in the middle of a load of last-minute laundry: I’ve become a Resolver.

Not the person who sets lofty goals as the new year arrives. Nope. I’m talking about the lady who runs errands for her forgetful family members, obtains paperwork, lip balm, cold medicine and emergency snacks.

A concierge, if you will. A Resolver. I gave myself that capital “R” as compensation for the periodic panic that ensues when my services are needed. There’s the moment when your family member asks about the missing button on a pair of work pants — five minutes before it’s time to walk out the door.

Or worse yet, the times that a necessary and irreplaceable item required for a school performance or athletic competition turns out to be buried at the very bottom of a smelly bin of not-yet-laundered clothing. And the washer takes 20 minutes to run, the dryer 30, and start time is less than an hour away. You might make it. Or you might need to buy back-up items.

Or you might need a good cry after a cup of hot tea.

There was a time when I might have observed that “most mothers know what I’m talking about,” back in the day when stay-at-home parenting was the norm for women. In this modern world we inhabit, I’m not sure who claims the prize for being that go-to — guy? — gal? — bystander? when life gets messy. All of us, I’m guessing.

Because all of us have been that person who shows up with the last ingredient that’s needed for a specific situation. Students at the USD 480 district Engineering and Science Fair held last week know this: many had to work in teams, some of which cohered more thoroughly than others. Cast members at the LHS production of “Godspell,” which showed Thursday and Friday, know it, too; not only did the students build the sets and learn their lines, they also volunteered to bring a pre-production meal to share as a cast.

Of course, when the kids can’t drive, parents often become part of the picture again. If you’re feeling left out of your teenager’s life, there’s always transportation.

And laundry. And groceries. And the other little things that everybody needs, like stamps and cough drops.

Claiming that I’m The Resolver sounds a bit overblown. It’s like taking credit for fixing an election or starring in a television program. Even so, on harried days, it helps to find a mission objective and title. Wouldn’t you rather latch on to the sense that your efforts matter, that they make a difference in the world, as opposed to existing in a constant state of near-panic as you scramble from one task to the next?

Thought so. That’s why I’m a Resolver.

In the larger picture of life, most of us end up with at least a part-time position as Resolvers. It’s what makes the difference between people who voice unhappiness about the state of this world, and people who get up and do something. What they do might not be definitive or final. Often it’s just the task at hand.

Yet Resolvers deserve credit for much of what we rely upon in our daily lives. There were the ladies — once again, I’m thinking about those housewives, God bless ’em — who worked through civic clubs to civilize Liberal. They raised money to start a library, which still exists today, and they raised flowers and shrubs to make city parks more than a wishful idea.

They also raised children who grew up to serve as lawyers, doctors, teachers, preachers and shopkeepers, because all this took place in a time when the world was less global and restless and people stayed close to home.

Resolvers also started Pancake Day, once a modest effort to build transatlantic friendship as the world felt its way back to peacetime. Now, the Shrove Tuesday extravaganza on the High Plains is known worldwide — and not entirely because it’s a quaint local tradition. It’s also a great example of how a little enthusiasm goes a long way toward building community.

Tell-me-what-we-need-next people are also the types who built and improved the public school system in Liberal — one that’s overcome cultural changes and economic challenges admirably.

In an elementary school building that’s bursting at the seams, MacArthur principal Shawna Evans and her team of teachers and staff have won one award after another. They haven’t let the challenges of a tight budget or close quarters deter them from educating children of all economic, racial and social groups.

Liberal High School, once the bottom of the barrel, has earned national notice for its carefully targeted programs designed to tackle big challenges in an ever-changing student body. You can thank principal Keith Adams and the team of educators he affectionately refers to as “master teachers” — several of whom put in long, extra, unpaid hours at the science fair this week — for that turnaround.

As a reporter, I often hear coffee-shop talk that focuses on Liberal’s shortcomings, its drawbacks, flaws rooted in the failures of every single person who dared to enter public service, sign up for a volunteer board, or just speak out about an issue. I get it.

People like to talk, and it’s normal for all of us to focus on the negative, whether we’re griping about taxes or city codes or who used up the last scoop of laundry detergent without telling anybody.

Here’s the thing, though: each of us has the power to resolve those problems, one at a time. It might start with registering to vote. It might start with holding the door for a fellow customer. It might start when you hear the buzz of the dryer, and your domestic clothing delivery service springs into action.

Resolve the problems. It’s what friends and family — and communities — do best.

 
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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press.

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