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I'm the Local Gal in Richmond, Indiana, exploring my hometown and heart. I write about all thing local, sometimes global. It's a small world after all.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Richmond: The Landscape & Thoughts

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” 
~Leo Tolstoy~

I am not always 100% positive. True, I am more often than not defiantly not negative  (and yes, I mean defiantly, as when facing a barrage of negativity I refuse (within reason) to cave to it). I actively, consciously choose to cherish and value what is good and right here. It isn't always easy. Sometimes I look around my hometown and I see so much potential. Other days I look around and see only an insurmountable to-do list. There is a story about a beggar who asks passersby for pennies, all the while he does not realize that he is sitting on a pot of gold. Is our community like that beggar? When I do occasionally spiral into hopeless impatience, am I that beggar?

Here we are and where do we come from? 

A Local Lady Snap Shot

If I ask my children, they point to my belly. Our genetics shape us but they do not dictate our fortunes. There are more influences at work upon us than just our physical DNA, which is complicated enough. Environment affects us too: the earth and its make up, the shift of atmosphere and weather, the introduction of new substances. Each one and more are like a slight turn of a kaleidoscope. We are the beads that dance and fall into place.

Only the moves we make are our choice. Whether those movements are small or bold, they have the power to change the design and alter a pattern in our society.

Our parents raise us and as years pass, it becomes more apparent. Demographics and class, education, they are obvious, but there's always more at play. Not everyone who is unfortunate or even unloved becomes bitter or bad. Not everyone who is nurtured and cherished can be counted on for good.

How does the landscape affect our disposition?

We live in a valley, in a city where the electric hum and glow of lights offends the rest one can find only in the dark, obscuring the stars and enclosing the people in their narrowly lit perspective. Without a clear view of space, without openness and a broad view of heaven, how can any one be expected to think loftier thoughts? A gorge runs through town, carrying river water and ages old sediments and sewage and rain. My house is between two hills. There is security in this wedge. Storms pass around us above and below, but we remain sheltered more often than not by our geography. We do not flood as much as the south. We are not as cold as the north.

We live above what once was ocean floor hundreds and thousands of years ago. Limestone encases the creatures who came before us both giant and minuscule. The fossils lie calcified in our rocky yard borders. The ground is shifting from extremities of temperature and sudden dryness followed by even more sudden rains. Not even Hoosiers who are accustomed to switching summer and winter wardrobes in a day can ignore this new level of unpredictability. The borders tumble into the street. The cracks grow wider and we cringe at distant news stories of sinkholes swallowing streets, homes and even people. The soil is either cracked as desert or mush and marsh. Willfully at times, we ignore the faults beneath our feet, when they are not directly worrying us. When they worry us, we see only the faults and nothing else.

Our infrastructure is crumbling beneath our feet. The houses, the sidewalks, the clutter of modern necessities: pipes, tracks, lines, poles, pock marked streets, all serve to distract us from the real history of this place. What never goes away are the geological histories. The story that remains with or without people are the stories of water, its' presence and absences. The ocean receded and left thick limestone. The trees and plants that came and went left their deposits, enriching the soil.

There are different worlds even in a small town. Like small countries divided by what could be described as different realities, we exist together on this flat land, near the "highest point" of Indiana. To some of us, Richmond is a small kingdom. A small, cozy pond for big, comfy fish. To some of us, Richmond is a city of underdogs: under-educated or underemployed and only overwhelmed but not over.

That is not to say that there is a "they" or an "us", when we all live here, we are invested together in this place. Our successes and failures are shared, even if not consciously.

This city frets over its past, nursing its wounds and parading its pride and griefs in the streets. The busy generations of yesteryears built their industries that grew our population. They manufactured cars, mowers and more. They played their Jazz hits, planted roses, built monuments and survived disasters. They buried the waste of their industries, but at times the contaminants have haunted the soil and rise as dust to plague us.

We miss the glory of manufacturing, but times are changing. The ground is shifting, and we cannot keep pace by always looking backward. We cannot keep pace by being unrealistically hopeful, not either by wallowing in pessimism. There is a balance. May we find it.

We are Indiana. We are the norm. Our disparity is yours too. We are the voice of the nation's news. Our limestone is the Pentagon and the Empire State building. We are the “Corn Belt”. We are the Midwestern spine of the United States. We are at the crossroads of the nation, and if we are unaligned, then so is America. This matters. The choices we make, the aspirations we chase can change the world.

You can be sure that our future affects the rest of the nation. We are smack in the middle of it all. What kind of future is in store for our city? For Indiana, "the Crossroads of the Nation"?

A Local Lady Snap Shot

As one person, I may not leave a lasting mark on the landscape, but I will do my best to do the good that I am able. That effort is never wasted.

A wise woman told me that "change, real change begins in people's hearts. It can't happen through force or law. It's slow, but it's worth while." When I look around at all there is to accomplish, and when it seems daunting, I try to remember her words and I try to examine my own heart closely.

Just a thought.

<3 Your Local Gal


  1. This is a beautiful, thoughtful post that both realistic and uplifting. Let's keep it in mind as we mold and transform our lives together in small but significant ways.

  2. "We are at the crossroads of the nation, and if we are unaligned, then so is America. This matters."
    Love this.

  3. I like Leo Tolstoy, but he was a dreamer. I think real change begins with law and then in hearts. That's Unfortunate truth.

    Landscape Company in Richmond

    1. Well in that case, I believe that it all begins with dreams. Whether it's a fact or not it's at the very least a historically accurate pattern. Here's hoping for the best in our laws and in our hearts.

      Thanks for commenting, Duke.