Source: Sherman Publications

Editor's Column - Citizens speak

December 07, 2011

They say the squeaky wheel gets oiled first. In this town and across our country, those people who voice their opinions the loudest typically get them heard and, in our case, published.

I will admit, however, after a while it is real easy to tune out the steady drumbeat of opinions from the same few citizens in our community.

That is why it was so refreshing last Wednesday to listen to several people representing various generations of Orion citizens express their thoughts as part of TheLakeOrion Review’s first “Citizen’s Forum” at the Orion Township Public Library. (As an added bonus, we had three of the folks renew their subscriptions on the spot, handing us checks!)

It is amazing what happens when you get a group of people together, sitting across from each other to talk face-to-face. They may have been spread out in age, backgrounds and general beliefs, but they all managed to get along without offending anybody. They were courteous and respectful of each other’s opinions. It was a great two hours of dialogue.

The staff of the newspaper learned a lot about what average citizens think of our community, its schools and government leaders, as well as the direction of our township and village, and the business climate in the area. We also asked them about what they thought would be the greatest challenges the township faced next year.

Everyone seemed to come prepared with their ideas. I found it pleasantly surprising how their opinions were more often than not aligned with each other, or at least they seemed to recognize there can be more than one right answer to addressing a problem.

Dare I say everyone agreed that compromise was a good thing and that folks with dug in, extreme views really do not help solve anything in an effective manner?

Maybe what was most compelling was the fact that the men and women in attendance spoke from their hearts. They seemed to genuinely care about Lake Orion, its people and the community’s future. We all agreed Orion Township and the Village of Lake Orion are unlike so many locales in the region – connected to a fault, perhaps, but not wanting it any other way.

During the talk, if there was something a person did not like about living here, they explained themselves and, more importantly, often provided at least the beginnings to a thoughtful solution to their gripe or concern.

Many of us have watched Lake Orion change so much over the past 20 years. Everyone at the forum agreed more changes are undoubtedly coming, some good and others maybe bad. Rather than run from change, however, I think this group realized how important Lake Orion is to all of them. By sticking together and, if necessary, sacrificing together, we all agreed this community will most assuredly continue to evolve and survive well into the future.

Like I said, it was a refreshing meeting – one that renewed my confidence in the spirit of our citizens - and evening well spent with my peers in Lake Orion.