Letter: Negativity is everywhere

Published 11:38 pm Friday, September 28, 2018

“People deal too much with the negative, with what’s wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom”— Nhat Hanh.

Negativity, it’s everywhere. It seems to be a contagious disease spreading around the community these days. I find it hard to go online without the negativity smacking me in the face. When people have a negative experience or encounter, they’re quick to tell anyone who will listen. Imagine if this were true of positive experiences and encounters? Lately, I have seen lots of chatter online about how Albert Lea is a dying town, businesses are leaving, people are leaving — with comments like “will the last one to leave turn the lights off.” It’s enough to dishearten anyone; it’s everywhere, so it must be true, right? 

As a 33-year-old living in this town, these have not been my sentiments at all. To me, this town feels more alive than it has the 11 years I’ve lived here. I started to think surely I cannot be imagining this! So, I placed a call to our mayor and was relieved that my feeling is true. We talked about how the population of Albert Lea is over 18,000 again — surpassing the predicted trend. Enrollment in our schools is up this year. Also, though it seems we’re reading more about businesses leaving, more local businesses have opened in the last few years than closed. This is extremely evident when you go down Broadway. Downtown is thriving again, and it’s locally owned business, people from our own community. My family and I are easily able to occupy a good part of the day downtown. There are cute little shops, cozy places for coffee, several restaurants, places to look at art and places to make art. Of course, my children can’t go downtown without a stop at Whimzy. We’re so lucky to have all of these businesses and opportunities. The city is also working with a firm to attract and retain more retail. I, for one, am extremely excited about what this could mean for our future. None of these facts are evident of a dying town.

Then, there are those complaining there is nothing to do here. In my experience, there is so much to do I can not decide sometimes which events to attend. I love having the option to catch some live music, create my own piece of art, canoe, fish, attend a wine tasting, an exercise class, a book club or learn about meditation. Not to mention all the free events and kid-friendly things that our city, library and park and rec put on. So, if you’re not finding something to do, you’re simply not trying.

Maybe instead of giving in to negativity and sticking your head in the sand, we could start embracing the positive and supporting our wonderful local businesses and events. Who knows what could happen? Is there room for improvement in Albert Lea — absolutely. Have we come a long way — I believe so!

Sarah Stueven

Albert Lea