Greenwood is an unknown town. Hidden away on the map, shielded by larger towns; made up of Friday night football games, and churches around every corner. Sports are its favorite pastime; creativity is its worst enemy. If I were mayor I’d like to change that.
Each Friday students gather in a cramped arena. They cheer for their football stars and cheerleaders, while the band stands in the bleachers filling the air with music. On those nights the field is turned blue and gray, and the bleachers are filled with adoring fans. Parents screaming for their sons and girls cheering on their boyfriends. The band performs, marching across the field, the cold sweat coating their faces. Afterwards, they stand in the cold risers, their songs drowned out by cheering fans. The next monday the football players are the stars in the halls. Every teacher and student praising them for their hard work and dedication. The band kids are passed by. They are not praised or acknowledged. They walk the halls silently dreading the hours after school they must sacrifice to practice.
That’s what it is like for anything in Greenwood that involves creativity. Choir spends hours perfecting their songs to make it to state, but even when they place they are passed over. Maybe a congratulation here and there, but not a single soul who cares. If a student wins an art contest it is the same. They may get a picture in the paper and ribbon, but the citizens of the town look blindly past them.
Teachers push their students to work hard in academics and sports, and to work hard in school because of sports. The creative kids, the artists, the writers, the singers, they are left behind and supported by few. They are told to put down the sketch pad and pick up a chemistry book; they are told to drop the mic and pick up an algebra textbook.
Each house is adorned with “Go team!” signs and each car with windshield stickers supporting each family’s star athlete. No matter how hard the eye may strain or how far one travels across town, there is not a trace of creativity. Like a it’s a crime so terrible that it mustn’t be mentioned.
To make Greenwood a more accepting place I would love to bring together more community wide festivals for the arts. An art exhibit filled with the work of local artists, a monthly poetry slam for the writers in the area, a concert showcasing the talent of the gifted people of Greenwood. Bringing people together for these events would drastically change how creativity is viewed in this town. It would make people realize that being creative in any way, shape, or form can create a wonderful community, and contrary to popular belief, even result in a bright future for those involved.It would be a positive thing for creative people by giving them a community to express themselves without ridicule, and a place to be motivated to follow their dreams.
Another idea I have is to have more creative presentations at local schools. A huge issue is that most people who are in school see the arts as immature and a waste of time. If we were able to expose the students to more art their opinions may change for the better. If they see school officials supporting the arts then they will also begin to support it and maybe even embrace it in their own lives. We could invite speakers who are successful in creative fields to talk to the students, and schools could inform students of local contests in writing, singing, art, etc. This would give these students the chance to showcase their skills and be appreciated, and seeing someone successful in the fields they are interested in may alleviate their sense of fear in pursuing those careers.
To fund these ideas we could hold fundraisers and look into how the money for other public events are divided. All these new events would also increase the flow of visitors in our town and increase the money earned. Eventually the profit would even out and it would be easier to fund these events. We may even be able to get businesses to support the cause like the local bank funds the football team. I would also revise some other expenses of the town that are not needed such as the excessive maintenance for flags around the town.
My ideas mainly focus on changing the mindset of people by changing my town. I want to change my town, make it more colorful. I want music to drift down Main Street. I want to see people at the library, their heads stuffed in novels and notebooks without being ashamed of this joy. I want other people to see this and realize that sports and education aren’t the only ways to success, and that loving creativity doesn’t make you weird or a future bum. I believe if people are exposed to these things I have mentioned, Greenwood can be more accepting and overall a happier place to live.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.