Negative Nancy

Column: Finding the Good
by Caitlin Ludwig

This past week, Rockford was awarded a distinction that wasn’t very flattering.  Rockford was named one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the US by www.247wallst.com.  While this is something that saddens a pro-Rockford girl like me, I understand that sometimes difficult times put people in difficult situations with horribly devastating outcomes.  It isn’t a secret that our community has been hit harder than many in this economic downturn and the rise of crime is often an outcome of such hardship.

Nevertheless, I have always felt safe in this city.  As a single, white, female in her mid-twenties, I have never feared going somewhere by myself or driving after dark.  While I am safety-conscience, I do not feel afraid to live, work or play in Rockford.  After chatting with a few friends on the matter, I found that they felt the same way.  The Rockford region is our home and we are proud to say so.

But what bothers me more than the actual ranking is the speed at which the article traveled through my Facebook newsfeed.  For days, the story kept popping up with sarcastic comments about Rockford ranging from “at least we’re known for something” and “yep, that’s good ole Rocktown!”  Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Rockford a place we call home?  Aren’t we willing and able adults who have the choice to live where we want to?  If you’re going to poke fun at Rockford and constantly promote the negative without trying to work toward a better solution, why on earth are you here??

In my opinion, as citizens of this great city, we have a certain duty to spread the positive and show our love.  Think of it this way: if someone had pointed out a bunch of negative things about a good friend or a family member you care about, would you constantly share it on Facebook?  Would you draw more attention to the news or would you perhaps look for a way to help your friend/family member?  Why is your city any different?

Sure, blood and guts sells.  No one likes the news that Rockford is considered a “dangerous” place to live.  I’m not suggesting we sweep the stats under the rug or pretend that Rockford is absolutely perfect.  There are a lot of ways we can improve.  But where do we start?

How about we start by spreading more positive news than negative.  First step in change is positive self image.  If we start promoting all of the good things that are going on in the Rockford region, it will put us in a better mood when we’re dealing with a few of the negatives.  Combat negative attitudes with positive.  If a friend posts something negative about Rockford, stand up for your city and add positive comments instead.  It’s time we start standing up for our great city because there are a lot of great things happening here.  If you need to know what they are, email me and we’ll go for coffee.

The second step is to acknowledge the negative in a constructive way.  Okay, so Rockford was named 9th most dangerous city.  Rather than simply add to the negativity by positing the story and making fun of it, take action on the matter.  Decide how you can help to rectify the problem.  How can we assure that we’re not on next year’s list?  Perhaps you can help tutor an at-risk teen to help keep them from dropping out of high school.  Maybe you can assist your time and talents with an organization working to put people back to work?  Or, simply donate money to organizations working to stop crime.  Then, instead of posting the story in a negative light, post it and say something along the lines that it saddens you to see Rockford make such a list and you’re doing something about it.  Ask your friends to join in your efforts and turn a negative into a positive.  I guarantee you, your pride in Rockford and even yourself will grow.

The bottom line is this: we have CHOSEN Rockford to be our home.  It is our responsibility to make it great.  Our actions, or lack thereof, contribute to the rise or fall of our city.  We are at a time when young professionals can be a saving grace to Rockford as we face change and opportunities for growth.  I for one, will not buy into the negative Nancy attitude.  I owe Rockford far more respect than to spread stories that shine the light on a blemish.  I work hard to promote all the good that Rockford has to offer and work extremely hard to make her an even better city and I hope you will do the same.

So, it’s time to put our money where our mouth is as they say.  Stop promoting the negative and start promoting the positive and working towards positive change.  Together,we can make sure that Rockford is never again on such a negative list.

And, if you don’t like it?  I know a really good realtor who would be happy to put your house up for sale.  After all, if we didn’t have so many negative Nancys in town, think of how fast and how much good work we could get done.

-Caitlin

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~ by caitlinludwig on May 31, 2011.

2 Responses to “Negative Nancy”

  1. THANK YOU!

    Debbie downers need not apply – some people call them CAVE people; Citizens Agaisnt Virtually Everything. Just think a second, are you one of those people? It’s easy to follow a trend, but this a habit that needs to be broken. I was once guilty of it, and am so glad I’ve discovered how very wrong I was. Think about the friend you have on facebook that ONLY complains – it gets tiresome very fast. Caitlin has suggested several good ways to contribute in our community, and I truly hope someone takes up the cause, but to those people who we know embrace negativity I’ll say this: Doing NOTHING is better than the filth you are spreading, and I ask you, WHY? Even if you are too lazy to go seek out the good (it isn’t hard to find), please stop perpetuating this ugly image. This is our community, it’s a good one, and it could be a great one if it weren’t for the tendency toward self-destruction. It’s time to turn this boat around, and dropping off some dead weight while we’re at it would be a bonus.

  2. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, lived in the southwest Chicago suburbs after college…both places many people in Rockford think are better. I deliberately moved here, and I’m happy to call this town home. It is all about taking a personal stake in your community.

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