Maybe things will get real in Rotterdam

Published 12:01am Sunday, August 25, 2013

Four years ago a group of local acquaintances came together to find out what happens when they stop being polite and start being real.

Call it the Miss-Lou version of MTV’s long-running show “The Real World.”

In the TV show, producers challenged several young people with wildly diverse backgrounds to live together in one house.

The show played up the bickering and squabbles of the house’s inhabitants — the more outrageous and scandalous the higher the ratings.

The local version was far less scandalous, but was equally as “real.” The group was the Miss-Lou Regionalism Steering Committee.

Most, if not all, of the faces were familiar to one another including the mayors of Natchez, Vidalia and Ferriday, a representative of the Adams County Board of Supervisors and the Concordia Parish Police Jury, chamber representatives and private business representatives, too.

The first meeting was a bit awkward, not unlike a first date or the first episode of “The Real World.”

In a short time period, the group’s mission was hammered out — Adams County and Concordia Parish will join together for the purposes of community and economic development.

It’s a simple concept and one that most logical folks can get their heads around rather quickly. But government and logic are rarely two sides of the same coin.

Sparks flew in the early meetings from time to time and all members had to constantly remind one another the greater purpose was to improve the collective community.

Government is mostly focused on power, control and self-preservation. Cooperation or togetherness may sound good, but practicing those words is rarely a top priority.

The group bonded early during a trip to what was then determined to be the most successful community in the state when it came to economic development and regionalism — Tupelo.

The trip’s goal was simple: figure out what we could learn (aka steal) from the good systems in place in Tupelo.

As part of that trip, we learned one of the Tupelo group’s greatest successes was in seeking out new ideas that other groups were doing, traveling to see the ideas in action first-hand and then bringing the idea back to Tupelo.

The premise of the idea is one that many people may find difficult to understand — all of us can learn from others. New ideas can make significant change in a community, but only if they’re discovered and ultimately put into action.

Such a plan in Natchez has already hit a stumbling block.

A trip to Rotterdam is planned to bring together the leaders of the Natchez-Adams County Port and the soon-to-be-built Vidalia Port.

But the mere mention of traveling to somewhere else has prompted some in our community to scoff at the idea.

Who knows if the trip will succeed at bringing the area’s leadership together to work on port issues and port management as one?

But if traveling halfway around the world results in even a 1-in-10 shot that Adams County and Concordia Parish would cooperate more together, it’s worth investment time and money.

Just like the young stars of “The Real World” learned as they grew up, getting along with one another is much better than acting like children and fighting.

 

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.