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Silly me.

I see more evidence every day that I have reached the “That Reminds Me” stage of life. It seems like almost anything that is said or done reminds me of something from the past.

This gives me two concerns. One is that I’m afraid the next stage after “That Reminds Me” is the “I Can’t Remember” status. This manifests itself in many ways. If I want to write a letter or note to someone – the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper – I have to remember to write it, then I have to make sure I have the right address for the recipient. Then I have to remember to have stamps on hand so I can mail it. Then I have to remember to mail it. For me, this whole process can take about a week.

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But all of this is preceded by the “That Reminds Me” saga, and I have to be careful with this one. I do not want to find myself living in the past all the time. I would rather concentrate on something new rather than something old. I think that’s good advice for individuals, for families, for communities and society as a whole.

In my case, I came to the conclusion that as I grow older, I am doing more and more things for the last time and fewer and fewer things for the first time. But, what to do?

I decided to take up cooking. So far, I have progressed past “A Man, a Can and a Microwave” to experimenting with honest-to-goodness recipes. I have a long way to go – but I can make a meatloaf that will have you begging for more.

But enough about me. What about communities and society looking forward instead of backwards?

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Several years ago, I had occasion to interview a minister from out of town who came to Mason City to be the main speaker at a revival at a local church. During our conversation, he mentioned that as he traveled around the country preaching and speaking, he could always tell a lot about a local church before he ever stepped inside it.

He said church members would meet him and greet him and tell him all about their church. In some cases, he said, the conversation was always all about what the church had done in the past. With others, they talked excitedly about all the plans they had for the future. Those were the churches that evoked excitement, he said, and were most likely to succeed.

(They weren’t talking about last week’s meal. They were making meatloaf!)

In watching local government, particularly in recent years, I am struck by the emphasis on the future. I have had many conversations with Clear Lake City Administrator Scott Flory and Mayor Nelson Crabb over the years – and I can’t remember either of them talking about how things used to be. Their emphasis is on what’s happening and what’s going to happen.

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Happily, the same thing is happening in Mason City. City Administrator Aaron Burnett and Mayor Bill Schickel obviously can learn from the past but they don’t waste a lot time talking about it. There’s too much to plan and too much do.

Credit must be given to the city councils that provide the means for the communities to move forward and to Chad Schreck and the North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corp. for helping to open the doors of opportunity.

The meatloaf’s in the oven, folks.

Silly me.

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John Skipper retired from the Globe Gazette in February 2018 after 52 years in newspapers, most of that in Mason City covering North Iowa government and politics.

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