Returning Home to a Strong Community - Welcome to the Steuben Courier Town Square

Staff Writer
The Steuben Courier Advocate

When I returned to my hometown after living overseas, my first mission was to stop at Arby's for a chicken, bacon, and Swiss sandwich.  As much as I enjoyed German cuisine, I missed the satisfying taste of some American fast food.  Having accomplished that mission on the drive home from the airport, my second order of business was to pick up the local paper.  Because I had been gone for so long, I had developed a strong desire to contribute to the public discussion about issues that I thought were important.  Upon opening The Courier, I was immediately impressed with the rich dialogue that was taking place in our area, and I had no choice but to reconsider my theory that civic virtue and participation were dying in America.  What I saw was a citizenry that was deeply connected and keenly interested in the topics of the day, both locally and nationally.  Even better, The Courier seemed to not only provide ample space for such dialogue, but to strongly encourage participation.  In short, it was a community and I had to be a part of it. 

I wrote a few letters to the editor over the summer and into the fall, thinking very modestly in terms of feedback and reciprocation.  But every time I wrote, people would remark to me that they had read my letter and would often offer comments about the subject matter I chose.  People weren't just contributing; they were reading their fellow citizens' contributions, forming opinions, and following up.  Because of this, when The Courier approached me about being an online contributor, I couldn't say no.  How could I pass on a chance to be so intimately involved in the local dialogue?  The truth is, I am honored to do so, and I hope that my contributions will continue to be well-received even if we disagree from time to time. 

In this space, I aim to challenge you to think differently.  I ask that you not only accept that challenge and keep an open mind, but strive to challenge me in turn.  I am excited to have this opportunity, and I welcome you to The Steuben Courier Town Square.