Reasons to be thankful

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Here in the Northshire, there is plenty to be thankful for.

It almost feels facile to list those things that make us grateful, as if such a catalog could scarcely scrape the surface of our reality. Beyond our region's natural beauty, rich arts culture, and a diverse economy filled with small and locally owned businesses, we're perhaps most grateful for the people that populate this impressive landscape.

The widow Coretta Scott King once observed that "the greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." In Manchester, this maxim rings with a particular truth.

The Northshire is endowed with a citizenry that is committed to making this community, even the world, a better place. Over the past year you've read about a few in the Journal, and there are so many more that we've yet to highlight. Indeed, there is such a wealth of good samaritans that the Town (and previously the Chamber) has highlighted Manchester's "Unsung Heroes" for over two decades -- with no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Some of these people are ordinary citizens with an extraordinary commitment to their local community. Others, like Riley Callen and the Burzon's (both featured in this edition), have worked tirelessly to turn personal tragedy into philanthropy. Some, like Sarah Hadden of the Kura Project, have even taken their efforts worldwide. For many more, those small contributions made day in and day out can have crucial, though often invisible, impacts on our community.

Selectboard Vice-Chair Wayne Bell perhaps said it best when explaining why he has led the "Unsung Hero Award" year after year.

"It's human nature to sometimes forget to appreciate these people," Bell explained. "When you choose someone you don't just choose them, but in a sense we also think about all of the people who are quietly doing things that make our town a good place."

Not only do we have citizens who have embraced service as a way of life, but the active political scene in the Northshire also ultimately serves to better our community. Often, like in the recent State of the State forum held in Manchester, our local democratic and republican parties will come together in the interest of informing the public. Gadfly-groups like MoveOn Manchester and FedUp, among others, tirelessly urge our community to look inward with a critical eye.

Of course, partisan disputes exist in perpetuity. Nevertheless, community members have come together multiple times in the past year to foster open communication and listening skills within the Northshire. While those quarrels are vital growing pains in any democracy, we are urged to never forget that those who disagree with us may be our friends, neighbors, or even family.

We haven't fixed our rose-colored glasses to our faces just yet, however. There are plenty of ways that Manchester must improve and grow in the coming year. Issues like economic development and youth retention need to be addressed with both commitment and compromise if we are truly invested in ensuring our region's strength and relevance.

In the face of those efforts, we're grateful for the invested and informed citizens that are leading the charge. We're most thankful, however, for the compassion that infuses everyday life in the Northshire; for that compassion is what truly leads us to greatness.

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