In the last couple of years, Albert Lea has had quite a few projects going on in town. We are a community working together to create a place we love to call home. We have basketball courts, a pickleball court, and an ipaddleport station. Cellfie tours, a dog park and most recently a splash pad is coming to town. We also have Green Lea and Wedgewood Cove golf courses. We enjoy events such as Wind Down Wednesday and The Big Island Rendezvous. I also believe Chapel Con will be added to the list of big events in town.
How does this awesome come to a community? It happens because someone has a dream, vision, and passion. Someone mentions their passion, vision, and dream idea to someone else. This moment of well-wishing sparks a light of how they can accomplish it. They rally a group of people around them and work with their group of people to make it happen, whether it is through building a business or bringing an event to town.
They battle through hurdles of various sizes and difficulty. They ignore the negativity and the doubters to bring thousands of people to town. People who will spend money in our shops, hotels, gas stations and the economic impact is felt through the whole city.
What would you enjoy in town? Is it a restaurant with a specific item on the menu? Is it an event to bring what you love to town? Whatever it is you are missing here, find your tribe, the ones who also enjoy what you do and work hard to figure out the funding. Albert Lea has an amazing ability to rally around each other to make something happen in town. Businesses continue to give generously either through time, manpower, equipment, and other in-kind donations. Groups such as the Rotary Club and Kiwanis are continually fundraising to give to projects.
In the case of the splash pad, the committee raised $150,000 in a year. Questions have been raised about bathrooms for changing and for children to use the potties. These are valid concerns, and I had the same ones. There have also been questions as to why it wasn’t built near the beach or the Aquatic Center. Again, I had these same questions. The answer is everyone, including me, calm down and breath. One of the main reasons to put it downtown is to attract people to a beautiful part of our city. It is a central location highlighting many of our favorite assets in town.
The best thing any of us can do when we see a concern in a project is to ask “what can I do to help in this area.” Begin to research, problem solve and begin to take steps to find funding. Everything comes down to funding, if it didn’t we would have many more projects going. It also takes a community to back already existing projects in town.
You may not benefit from a splash pad, aquatic center or pickleball court. However, there are those in our community who will benefit from it, and their quality of life will go up. When you can see other people’s passions, dreams, abilities and can appreciate them this is the mindset that brings in a project with something you will enjoy and will increase your quality of life.
Where do nice things come from? They come from open-minded, supportive, problem-solving community members like you and me. I always think of the end of The Lorax by Dr. Suess “Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Albert Lean’s do care a whole lot, and things are getting better. The majority of people who raise concerns care, or they wouldn’t say anything at all. I believe what needs to be changed is not raising concerns, but in how we raise them. Nice things come from raised concerns from citizens who problem solve a solution. This is how we get a beautiful bathroom facility next to the splash pad, boathouse and other fun activities that add value to our lives.
Nice things come from someone like us who cares a whole lot, and things are getting better, they are.