Will the great pumpkin visit our patch?
Lots of us remember the classic cartoon character Linus, from the Peanuts television specials, sitting patiently in his pumpkin patch on Halloween waiting for the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. Instead of going through the traditional Halloween routine of dressing up and trudging door to door to trick or treat, Linus believed that the Great Pumpkin would rise up out of a worthy pumpkin patch and distribute candy to those good boys and girls waiting for him.
While Linus was very sincere, the Great Pumpkin never did appear, and Linus never got in on the sweet rewards of Halloween. Too often, community economic development can look like Linus in the pumpkin patch—patiently waiting for something BIG to happen. The Great Pumpkin might be an out-of-town Big Deal or an exciting New Marketing Strategy or even the latest thing in Community Research Programs. But no matter what guise the Great Pumpkin may take, waiting for something to happen is never the most successful way to grow our community.
We need to realize that economic development is not a magical event that appears in some towns and not in others. Instead, economic development means understanding the way things happen in the real world and taking action to make them happen for us. In other words, if we want the Halloween candy, we have to put on the costume, grab the goody bag and dash from house to house, shouting “Trick or Treat!” Doing things the traditional way may not be the hot new thing—but if it fills your bag with candy, it may be the right thing.
In any case, no matter how sincere our individual pumpkin patch is, we can’t expect that the Great Pumpkin will rise up in every pumpkin patch in the country. It’s the conscientious attention to infrastructure maintenance, the availability of land and buildings and our community’s commitment to the future that makes economic development happen. Let’s keep that in mind this Halloween!