The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #40: Questing for Normalcy: Passing a Future Day

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
March 21, 2016

Chronicle #40: Questing for Normalcy: Passing a Future Day

Whatever one man is capable of imagining, other men will prove themselves capable of realizing.”
--Jules Verne

General Eisenhower once supposedly said, that when things happen, “plans mean nothing. . . , but planning is EVERYTHING.” Can anyone predict the future? Not a chance, but we make plans anyway.

Even when everyone makes plans for the future, like their children's education, or for retirement, unexpected things happen, things like life intervening to disrupt a sense of security and stability. We might know only two things about the future for certain: 1) It has not happened yet. 2) Things as they exist now will inevitably change in some way.

In the uncertain angst and some fear about the future, we pine for and attempt to build, or at least label, our lives in the normal routine, the familiar, the stable foundation that defines the day to address the tasking at hand. And that describes fairly well the questing for normalcy for the entire world: A routine, a stability, a foundation, something that narrows uncertainty to manageable risks. Yet, we still have the future to consider, especially in our dynamic community of Greater-Osceola.

“Dynamic” implies change in many directions. It aptly describes our area, at this point in time, where technology advances and encounters cultural values; where population demographics meet physical geography. Instead of any sort of “clash” between old and new, different and the conformity, we actually have a union of forces—technology, culture, people, and geography—that can push back barriers of growth and development. By itself, these forces could conflict. Or, some individuals may lament and obstruct their irresistible momentum to everyone's detriment in the community.

What will Osceola look like in the future? No one knows. Any plans, of course, will not survive contact with reality (to quote another long-dead historical figure). But a process of planning will provide guidance, and set the people, places, tools, and information in position to benefit Osceola and its neighbors. The hard part? That those changes reflect the past values that strengthened the community. (For these, see Chronicle #39)

How do we want Osceola to “look” in the future? I have my own ideas.

--Osceola might have an opening to attract a privately-funded, or state-sponsored community-oriented technical college. Such could focus on work-force development in training, skills, trades and programs for the industrial park and the airport facilities. Also, such things as manufacturing management and quality-control, airplane mechanics—indeed, anything to give the work force in Polk County an advantage to attract high-quality industry to locate HERE, in our area.

--An extensive, privately-funded, and -run, renewable-agricultural and -energy co-op (or company), one that does both marketing and development of these industries, but also one that might have a hand in education, and developing some new ideas, research, etc. And, also, some sort of business model that could sustain a year-round open-market, indoors or outdoors, that functions more like an agora (google it), several days a week, and open to vendors and customers.

--Some form of privately-owned media center, that has at least radio broadcasting, and a cable/internet video station, one that can better connect the citizens in the St. Croix Valley to Osceola's offerings. Such a center should include educational instruction for those who wish to learn more about the media arts.

I consider these my own pet ideas on what I would like to see in Osceola come the future. Let's hear yours.

[Author's Note: A couple of errors cropped up in last week's column. Sorry about that. One, concerned the location of the feed mill in Osceola in the 1970s. It actually stood in the current Ace Hardware parking lot. My memory? Good, but sometimes in error. TJK]

Sub Terra Vita #39: Questing for Normalcy: Roots Evolving to a Future of Growing

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
March 14, 2016

#39: Questing for Normalcy: Roots Evolving to a Future of Growing

Osceola's roots go deep, and far back, as a commercial center serving a farming area. Founded in the 1830s, the Osceola area welcomed Scandinavian, French, German and other immigrants during the post-Civil War boom. Through to the end of the 19th Century, the new farmers cleared the wilderness of forest, planted crops, raised livestock, and grew families The people of the heritage married neighbors, setting forth more generations, gave them schooling, set them to work very, very hard, every day and all day, to build a great Middle America.

The values of that Middle America continued, and Osceola families continued to seed generations to local schools, to two world wars, and Korea and Southeast Asia, and to work in the Twin Cities, and even to return to the heritage to live. They built a community around Osceola. In the late 1950s, the changes in the USA following the Second World War started to seep and filter into the roots of local life.

The changes in Osceola, like changes everywhere in America, began as an evolution of slow growth and adaptation. As a result, the change might have succeeded to reflect and keep those past values. Yet, things inevitably changed, as things always do. Even as the education boom post-Sputnik radically changed America's demography, and people's potential and expectations, so too did education, work, play and fun change in Osceola.

In my youth, things looked cosmetically different in town, although the values of heritage, neighbors, work, church, factories, soil, crops, dairy, schools, athletics, and family remained the long standing values until I graduated from high school. In Osceola, we knew these values “our Normalcy.”

Of the more noticeable differences since then: the current post office housed the Bank of Osceola; the dry cleaner today housed a smaller post office; the laundromat/car wash lot had the milk house (from where Wendy Viebrock delivered milk to houses individually, and drank a cup of coffee with the family, on occasion, before the next stop); Osceola had two hardware stores; a co-op sat on the corner of US 243 and the WI Hwy 35; the feed mill worked for farmers on Second Avenue, where the grocery store now sits; and, the industrial park, just beginning, contained mostly an open, empty field; few houses outside of the village limits; and working family farms all around it all.

Many of these appearances have changed, because these structures outgrew their presence or usefulness. But other communities in the valley closer to the metropolitan area exploded recently. In those places, demography and economics changed the nature of work, play, entertainment and education. Whether they did so successfully and preserved their core values remains for their own evaluation.

Nonetheless, they serve as harbingers of what Osceola must confront very shortly, and more rapidly than in the past transformations. As past provides prologue, the future of Osceola offers many exciting opportunities as a model for other communities to do something others failed to do before: Get their transition to the future right. How? So as to save the essential values—the normalcy—that provides strength; guides the updating and transformation of old structures (both physical and social); and allows a stronger, prosperous, safer and healthier community to emerge from a radical 21st Century pace of transition.

If the change in Osceola reflects its roots, instead of digging them up for valueless and uncertain foundations, it must combine old and new, both people and structures. The community as a whole made mistakes in the last 25 years, part too-much politics and money, and part too-little involvement by people directly affected. We cannot change any of the past, whether good or not. From here, to create a future, where the normalcy that made Osceola a great home and community will continue, the process of change has to involve everyone. Consider this, with the utmost seriousness. Prepare to engage the future, in person.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #38: Questing for Normalcy: Terms on Community

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
March 7, 2016

Chronicle #38: Questing for Normalcy: Terms on Community

A quest implies a search to discover something rare and precious. In this quest for the more normal things—the everyday, the simple, the plain vanilla—we can go the next lap and seek to understand the “normalcy” of something a community would like to attain as a condition of existence. This condition can provide for a stable, regular, and enduring foundation of values as to how we do things, or how we expect things to happen within some template of “regular living.”

By default, cultures sometimes can only define the conventions of normal by recognizing the opposite, or rather those things NOT normal. We may not fully realize it, but “average” in a statistical set has a close association to “normal.” Above average; not normal. Below average; not normal. Neither of those two types of average has anything inherently good or bad in them. People just define them as not normal if not of the average in the middle of statistics. It gets worse. Normal's true opposite, “abnormal,” means, in the clinical sense, “NOT a good thing.”

Like everything in writing, science, social studies, medicine, law, philosophy and even in the mundane topic of weather, much of the reality we know depends on how people define the terms in use within the conversation . How people define terms—or eliminate, discard, abuse or ignore the terms—will determine to a great extent the relationships between individual people or in larger groups and communities.

To define the terms of “normalcy,” for our purpose here, what does “normalcy” as a purpose or condition offer life in Osceola? In the greater St. Croix Valley? Or elsewhere in the world?

Normalcy does not mean blindness to injustice or wrong, but normalcy does mean a certain freedom to do one's part to better their life, and make it healthier, understandable, and prosperous. Normalcy does not provide license to disrespect anyone's person, their beliefs, styles, work or self-worth. It does, however, demand an attitude of open-mindedness toward new things and different people. Normalcy even asks for healthy agreement to disagree, and then to leave matters of pure opinion alone.

Normalcy does not condone neighbors to take opposite sides of an issue to the physical or moral detriment of the “community-of-all.” Normalcy needs to find a common point of agreement and work for some better solutions from there—for all concerned. Normalcy cannot offer a truly free lunch for everyone. Yet, normalcy in a community intends that families can feed themselves. A person can even choose to buy that “free lunch” for others. Also, normalcy in our area has a community organization feast or a church dinner after fall harvest or at holiday time—where things of normalcy gel into better understanding.

Normalcy does not mean holding on to old ways, by forcefully clawing them to shreds. That only destroys the value of their benefit to us. Normalcy honors things and people who knew it the way before now. Normalcy then getstheir insight, wisdom, and their simple experience of times before, to help the present generation understand new things, etc. Old and new helps the old and new work better together, and to the benefit of the present and future people who use it.

The rest of the world can always dissolve its strengths into a fury of ideology, conflict, worry and fear, all of which will consume the world which embraces those negative, abnormal impulses of human greed and fear. A community—anywhere—at its basic best can always survive upheavals elsewhere. I expect every community to do so, if it can understand the “normalcy” all desire as common to innate good natures. We have a common goal, in Osceola, as people have everywhere—to thrive, and to exceed the limits placed on people, those limits started when humanity divided itself.