July GSL column: This Fourth of July, don’t believe we can’t work together – regardless of divides

As we approach the Fourth of July, Independence Day in our country, I’m more struck than ever by the teamwork on display in Chillicothe and Ross County.

In fact, it’s a timeless American tradition to be selfless. Today’s naysayers would have you think otherwise. They spend a lot of time talking and influencing us to believe we are all different and can’t agree.

We can, and we do. We set aside self-interest regularly to work together and make a better community. We also have great examples from the early period of America to draw from.

Our ancestors landed on the shores of what is now America. They worked together to build communities – getting the work done, experiencing losses, growing their families working on projects, and celebrating the successes. When they had plenty, they shared. When they needed help, the community pitched in to get them through. These actions were essential to survival.

In many ways, we’re seeing the same thing now. Chillicothe has revitalized itself by pulling together – not waiting for Columbus or Washington to save us but working together to improve our downtown and give us a more livable community.

We’ve lived through recent bad times but now have a strong sense of resolve and are more willing to put action to our words. As we’ve looked inward, we found willing partners to share the load and solve our most demanding challenges.

They are renovating buildings to house our biggest dreams and creating new and exciting programs to educate our young people. The culture now is to work, play, and live locally. To invest in those who invest in your sports teams, charities, and causes is a way of life.

Collaboration is now the norm, not the exception.

When our businesses, residents, and government are working together – like we did as COVID-19 impacted our community a year ago – we are always at our best. Teamwork makes more than the dream work; it is the engine for a vibrant community.

What I loved about the past year is how much we all pitched in to help each other. So many people were buying into the overarching mission of experiencing the pandemic together. Groups of people working hard to make sure we can all meet our needs while jobs were being lost and businesses were under pressure to stay open.

Need a way to help your children cope with being cooped up in their house all day long? No problem. We have people all over the community putting teddy bears in their windows for you to take your kids on a “bear hunt.” Generous souls banded together to make masks to help those who can’t find or afford them.

Restaurants and coffee shops were helped by people who ordered take-out to help their neighbors keep their doors open. Retail shops figured out ways to create online stores or hold sales through social media, which allowed them to keep their businesses viable.

Our non-profit organizations and service clubs found different ways to feed, educate, and help those who needed it the most.

Working together is the best possible way to make our city and county thrive. Together, we emerged from the worst of 2020 and approach the rest of 2021 with hope. With a few exceptions, our local business community continues to thrive.

Where do we go from here? So many things could pull us apart. We need to stay together and work toward a community where the energy in downtown is felt everywhere. Our differences aren’t as significant as our desire to live in a great place.

There’s always room for those who want to help make us better. The essential question is this: What kind of life do we want to live?

So, ask yourself: How can I do my part? What can I do to plug in? How can I share my ideas?

From colonial America to the 21st Century, America was built around communities. Chillicothe was made the same way. Working together means a more vibrant future. Be grateful you live in a place where it’s a way of life.

Mike Throne is president and CEO of the Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce and the co-host, with Marty Ford, of the local Feels Like Home podcast. He can be reached at mthrone@chillicotheohio.com.