Getting involved is not in my nature. Or, at least, I thought it wasn't. But becoming a reporter after years of sitting home alone working on technical documents on my computer, I've found I actually like to be out and around other people.
Don't get me wrong. I'm still not a people person. The whole "does not work and play well with others" tag on my elementary school report cards was absolutely correct.
However, I'm finding that sitting in on meetings and hearing about Sunnyside has gotten me enthused about this city.
I covered the meeting about preserving and displaying the neon signs from Sunnyside's past. I was very impressed with the passion for the history of the town shown by the attendees, as well as the quality of ideas generated. It wasn't a large group, but they were able to work through the problems and discuss solutions in an open and friendly manner. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see those neon signs drawing tourists to Sunnyside before next year is gone.
I visited Sun Valley Elementary to meet and interview a new student, and was impressed with the vitality of the school and the enthusiasm of the staff.
I've been to several Port meetings and learned first what an official port is (I was confused, as a Seattleite I thought that ports involve water, which I didn't see here) and then what the Port of Sunnyside contributes to the local economy. I even got to climb around an abandoned factory, something I've always secretly wanted to do, but never before had the chance.
When I went to the downtown revitalization meeting I discovered town spirit is overflowing. Again, the sense of history mixed with civic pride and more than a little concern for the future was inspiring to witness. The way that attendees embraced both the past and the present was good to see.
I spent a day with the town's elderly, starting at the Nouvella Club's fashion show and ending at Sun Terrace Assisted Living, and saw vitality among those in the twilight years. I only hope I've got the energy of those men and women when I reach their ages.
Again and again I've seen people in this town pull together and get things done. And I've had the privilege of watching from behind the curtain, on the sidelines and sometimes in the front row.
If this is what it's like to live in a small town, then goodbye to the wet side of the mountains. I think I'll stick around the sunny side, watching and enjoying the volunteerism and excitement of a town that has a lot going for it.
And maybe, just maybe, someday I'll be getting involved.