On Tuesday, Jan. 29 our committee (still without a name) met in the Village Hall in Fredonia. Mayor Keefe has been very hospitable and helpful to the committee.
This meeting was very special because we had two guests who provided us with a lot of information and encouragement!
Our first guest was Joseph Pisoni, who is a member of the Local Economic Development Committee. He has been encouraged by the writeups I've been doing in my column because we are on the same page.
He quoted from an article written by Jack Hope in 1983 in the "Cream of the Country" magazine. It said that among the ten best areas in northern America in which to pursue a rural lifestyle was Chautauqua County! We couldn't agree more.
What our committee is going to do is expose all the hidden treasures of Chautauqua County. We will show what he have to offer; then we have to pick our targets and do them the favor of showing them how they can have the best vacation of their lives. It will be affordable and unforgettable!
How are we going to reach these people? One, with newspaper writeups and advertising. Two, writing letters to our families and friends, urging them to start planning their vacations now. Three, urge graduating classes in all of the county high schools to have class reunions. Four, since SUNY is so big, we'll give them one independent line. Don't forget the baby boomers! Five, would you be willing to talk at organizations? Six, would you be willing to talk on radio shows? We're just warming up. Get excited! Get involved!
Our second guest was Dr. David Bryant. He and Dr. Brenda Hayes have written a book called "What Is So Great About Chautauqua County?"
They interviewed 70 people who have either returned to Chautauqua County or chose it for their new home. They say the advent/broadband communication and a reasonable cost of living contributed to the case of transition. Newcomers have evaluated their lifestyle options and decided to live in a small town, rural environment, rather than a metropolitan setting. They also like the idea that there are five major cities within a one- to three-hour drive if they want occasional city life.
When asked why they moved here, these were the most common themes: a more meaningful, deep satisfaction with relationships with family, friends and community; more friends in rural life than in city life; Chautauqua County feels like home; it is a great place to raise a family; and families are closer to parents and grandparents. Another big plus to rural life is that it is so much easier to get involved with the community. There are so many opportunities to make a difference, like with beach clean-ups, literacy volunteer opportunities, and promoting environmental concerns and green energy. In a small town, you get back what you put in. These are all evaluations of newcomers. Thank you for opening our eyes to these things!
Seventy-five percent of the people interviewed almost immediately mentioned the friendliness of the people here. People help each other and watch out for each other.
Over half of the people interviewed said this is a less stressful place to live than elsewhere. There is less traffic and less crime. People value relationships more. This is the real America, where money does not define us. This is better for the children.
These newcomers also noticed a tolerance of different lifestyles here. For example, the Amish population, residents of Lily Dale, and those who home school their children all get along.
There's so much more to their research. If you contact Dr. Bryant and Dr. Hayes, maybe they can tell you more. If not, I'll ask permission to write more.
Two other items on our agenda were to find a name for our organization and to decide on a regular time for our meetings.
We decided to run a contest for the name of our committee. We'll come up with a prize. But we have a problem. I don't have a computer, but if you call me at 679-4772 I'll take your entry and we'll announce the winner later in the month.
We have settled on a time for our meetings. They will be the first Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Fredonia Village Hall. Come and join us. The February meeting will be Thursday, Feb. 7.
Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org