|There was an unusual hush that had taken over the monthly Town Hall meeting. Notably absent were the energized voices of citizens raising their concerns and sharing their innovations. Instead, as 7th grade President, Aaron, scanned the room, he saw dozens of downcast citizens with their eyes fixed on the ground.
He held up the local newspaper, emblazoned with the headline, “Thank You, Readers, for a Wonderful Run.” Taking a deep breath, he began, “I’m sure you’ve all heard by now. After today, our local newspaper will be no more.” Heads nodded slowly in somber recognition. “I know,” he responded, “It is really hard to lose another thing in our hometown.”
Micah, an 8th grade banker, slumped. “It’s like there’s nothing left here anymore. The restaurant closed, the movie theater shut its doors, the roller rink is gone and now the newspaper where my Dad works…What’s next?” The downturn in the economy had hit Loving, New Mexico. And hard. Cara, herself an entrepreneur in the MicroSociety marketplace, spoke up, “Owning my own business, I can’t even imagine how difficult it is for the people who own these places. I mean, you work so hard to make your business successful. And then, to find out that there is nothing you can do to save it. It breaks my heart.”
Anthony, a wiry 6th grader declared, “And it’s hard for us, the people that live in town, too. Where are we going to go to eat our birthday dinners? What are we going to do for fun? What are our parents going to read in the morning while we eat breakfast?”
President Aaron showed compassion in his eyes, but refused to let this turn into a gripe session. Yes, it was sad. But they could do something about it. That’s why they were gathered. “It doesn’t have to be so bad. There has to be a solution. Anyone have any ideas?” He looked around the room for suggestions. “Remember, there’s no such thing as a bad idea.” His 4th grade teacher used to say that. And it was true. Especially in a situation like this.
Sylvia, the chief editor of the MicroSociety Messenger, slowly raised her hand. “I guess we could take the place of the local newspaper. We could expand our stories to include what’s going on in the neighborhood. If we print in black and white, we could get a newspaper out to every family in Loving.”
A series of “Yeah’s” followed.
“And Anthony, on their birthdays, people in town could come to our restaurant. We could extend our hours. I know I would be willing to cook on Friday nights,” interjected Sasha, head chef at the Cactus Café.
“I know the roller rink is closed, but we could open up our Wellness Center a few nights a week so that people could still get exercise,” Cara continued. “And maybe we could show one movie a month. Laughter is good for your health too.”
Now all eyes were fixed on Aaron. “I like where this is going,” he responded in his typical calm and collected way. And after he wrote the mayor’s office, proposing their plan, he knew that one small society was capable of doing big things for their community. It felt good.