A relatively new group in Fairmont, called Focus on Fairmont, has taken on an interesting, challenging subject: community pride and culture. The group began with concerns about local aesthetics, namely some areas of town appearing a bit rundown. More recently, the group has been involved in creating a possible local rental ordinance that would push landlords to do a better job.
We have praise for and concerns about this group.
We think raising community awareness about certain shortcomings is good. If people realize that their actions, or lack thereof, represent a concern to neighbors, they may respond. Of course, the opposite is also true. Criticism may breed resentment, especially if the individuals under fire lack the wealth to do more, as in the case of landlords. New regulations may be intended to improve rental units, but fresh rules could instead reduce the units available, hurting Fairmont more than helping it.
Part of Focus on Fairmont's approach seems to involve changing people's attitudes. No small task there. We suspect the group will have better luck over time - and it will take time - through the gentle art of persuasion. Some citizens do not have Fairmont's overall "interests" in mind when it comes to local culture. Telling these people they are "wrong" and then expecting them to embrace change seems unlikely.
If Focus on Fairmont is willing to commit to a long-term strategy of winning over minds and changing "traditions," we believe it can find some success. The line to walk is a fine one when dealing with other people's long-held attitudes and feelings.