BY DAVE BLANK
“To those who stay put, the world is but an imaginary place. But to the movers, the shakers, the world is all around them, an endless invitation.”
I recently came across this quote and it immediately occurred to me that it was talking about the power of travel. People who have traveled, or lived in a variety of places, bring a well-rounded set of experiences which give them the ability to see problems and opportunities from a number of vantage points. And it is these types of people who will be soon calling Racine County home over the next decade. They’ll bring with them the knowledge of things that worked well and things that didn’t. They’re embracing change.
Have you ever loaded up the car with your stuff and headed off for a new job someplace far away? It’s kind of scary. I experienced that in 1987. It’s amazing what you can fit in a Subaru hatchback! Four days (and 2,008 miles) later I arrived in Pinecrest, California to start my new life as marketing director at Dodge Ridge Ski Area. Life at 6,200 feet elevation in a small town located in the Central Sierra of California is different than in Wisconsin. I learned all about gold mining, forestry and movie-making. I got to experience the good parts of living at elevation – great hiking, huge sugar pines, starry nights and lots of snow. Did I learn something there that I could use later in life? Sure did. Californians are a different kind of people. They tend to arrive late for meetings and will tell you what you want to hear.
Eight years later we loaded up the family and headed off to northeastern Utah as I started a job as executive director of the Dinosaurland Travel Board in Vernal. Vernal is located on the high desert at the base of the Uinta Mountains. Utah is very different than Wisconsin, or California, for that matter. The landscape is stunning. The people- interesting. You have to watch what you say, and to whom. Two-thirds of the acreage of the entire state is owned by the federal government. There were National Forest, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management representatives at every meeting.
Twenty-one years ago, we moved to Racine. I had visited here on a family trip when I was five years old. I still have the brochure that we received on the Johnson Wax tour. When I returned for the job interview, it was February and the wind was blowing off the lake. Not exactly a “visitor bureau” type of day!
Those who have never experienced life in another place have no idea about what the rest of the world is like because they’ve never experienced it. Yet, they feel that they can compare Racine to Albuquerque, or Cedar Rapids or Asheville. Racine County really is a beautiful place, in a great location and has lots to offer. Open your eyes, go out and explore, and take advantage of the opportunities that exist. You’ll have a new appreciation for this place that we call “home.”
Dave Blank is the president/CEO of Real Racine (Racine County Convention & Visitors Bureau).