I like social media, because there I can talk as much as I want. And I like to talk. So, people don’t often invite me to speak on their behalf. What a surprise then to be asked to say something for Lawton Proud. I’m assuming it’s a mistake they won’t make again.
Lawton Proud? I looked back at the contributors before me, and they have captured exactly what it means to be part of a community. They are Lawton Proud. I wish some of the things they said were things I was saying here for the first time—but now I guess I’ll just have to say those things first somewhere else.
In the meantime, I’ll try to come up with something original. How about this? I see Lawton through the eye of the museum (the other one got poked out in an unfortunate accident, thanks for asking). Twenty years before I became Deputy Director of the Museum of the Great Plains, I first worked at the museum as a volunteer. The Museum of the Great Plains was decades old at that point, quiet and professional. The training I received propelled me into a museum career—in other places. I had no idea at the time that one day I’d return to work at the Museum of the Great Plains.
But since 2011, I’ve been fortunate to participate in the revitalization of the Museum of the Great Plains. The success of our latest experiment, a different approach to learning and enjoying in a museum environment, was only possible through the support of the community. And that’s how I’ve experienced Lawton’s pride in its institutions and cultural assets, through the joy that the community takes in what it can offer its residents and visitors.
Being “Lawton Proud,” after all, is a vision and an investment. You have to know what you are, the good and the bad, where you want to go, and, well, have at least some notion of how to get there. I see these things all the time in Lawton, people who believe in something, dedicate themselves to the cause, and then, literally, invest in its success. In the case of the museum, we enjoy the support of municipal government, individuals, families, schools, local businesses and foundations, military personnel and their families, and ordinary visitors from across the area, country, and around the world. That Lawton can offer a museum of our size and caliber says a lot. It says a lot about vision, it says a lot about commitment, and it says a lot about investment. It says a lot about Lawton.
Another great thing about Lawton? You don’t have to be born here to get to be from here. If you want to participate in the community, we’ll take you in. We’re going to ask you what you think, and how you can help us. We’re going to ask that you invest your time, and if you’ve got it, your money. And we’re going to celebrate your successes, our success, together. That’s community, and that’s Lawton.
Sure, it’s popular these days to be cynical, even mean, about things. I quite enjoy it in my off time. But as the saying goes, “You’ve told me the problem, now tell me the solution.” Guess what? There are always problems, anywhere, everywhere, all the time. What distinguishes a person, a community, is if anyone is offering constructive, enriching solutions. I’m glad to say that there are many people and organizations in Lawton that constantly engage in the answering part.
Having lived most of my life within an hour or so of Lawton, I’ve had the opportunity to see the city grow and change. Lawton is on a good track. Look at what makes Lawton worthwhile. Community-minded, Lawton-proud residents accomplished those things. So take a long view, take a deep breath, relax, and experience what Lawton has to offer. I mean really has to offer. What have you not taken advantage of in the community? Yeah, that (whatever it is), go and do that. See, liked it, didn’t you? More to the world, isn’t there, more to Lawton, than you thought. You might just find yourself Lawton Proud, too.
Museum of the Great Plains