Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2001

Celebrate community with this week’s festival

August 23, 2001

It is the task of this corner of the paper to be opinionated, and since we cover De Soto our criticism is aimed there. But in doing so, we shouldn't and don't lose sight of what is good about the community.

De Soto residents are fiercely proud of their hometown. Still, you don't have to scratch the surface too deeply to uncover a certain defensiveness a defensiveness that is revealed in a former De Soto official's characterization of the city as "Johnson County's red-haired stepchild."

The defensiveness is a natural reaction to unending expansion of wealthy suburbs to the east and south, some developing near enough that they share ties with De Soto's schools, utilities and protection services.

For all their growth and affluence, the newer neighborhoods lack history, diversity and sense of place. Those are the ingredients that transform a neighborhood into a community.

Those things take time to develop in De Soto's case it has taken 144 years. The ingredients aren't present in neighborhoods of bewildering cul de sacs thrown up on cornfields neighborhoods filled with people from somewhere else with limited connections to their surroundings. The phrase "bedroom community" is accurate only in that there are bedrooms in these homes. Too often, there's not nearly enough "community."

If that's a stereotype, it's an easy one to defend.

This week is a celebration of our community. The four-day De Soto Watermelon Festival is the result of shared responsibilities. It is a demonstration of what can be accomplished when the community harnesses its efforts to a common goal.

Enjoy the carnival, the parade, the food, the events and reunions of the next four days. Take home the memory of sharing smiles with friends, neighbors or that guy who lives across town whose daughter has caught the eye of your son. The same man's uncle drives the red pickup that's parked in front of the Maine Place every morning. That's community. It's what De Soto needs to strive to preserve as it faces the leveling forces that come with growth and development. Growth brings challenges, but the spirit of community is what makes De Soto special.

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