Aren’t you just sick of Chico?
I mean, you must be, right? It seems that’s all we hear about some days — the bad stuff.
With your help, we’re going to change some of that narrative, starting today.
Granted, in many corners, it’s going to be a tough sell. For example, look at any Butte County social media crime page and you’ll see one snarky comment after another about how bad our town has gotten, and how unsafe it is, and how you can’t set foot in a city park without stepping on a half-dozen discarded needles or being harassed by homeless people and/or criminals.
And then there’s the “hate” thing. Many say our current homeless situation doesn’t harm our town nearly as badly as the people who spend so much time spewing hate about it. They’re the ones really ruining the city, they say; after all, statistics show crime is down, not up, and if you haven’t enjoyed a safe walk through the park lately, well, that’s probably your own fault for spending so much time parked in front of your computer.
I see and hear these things, and dozens like them, every day — everything from “our parks and creeks are ruined” to “our rights are being eroded” and “people have no regard for the health of their fellow man.” As is often the case with life, I see some truth in those words, and, usually, a fair amount of (shall we say) well-intentioned exaggerations.
But mainly, I just hear the anger and complaining and group-think negativity, with so many people pointing at our town as a bad place to be in the year 2021.
I’m here to tell you that’s still not the Chico I see. If you enjoy a little big-picture thinking, I don’t think it’s the Chico you see, either.
So maybe the problem is, we have too many people with loud megaphones constantly complaining about the bad stuff without taking the time to appreciate (and celebrate) the good stuff, and I’ll include the pages of this newspaper as an occasional contributor to the problem. I think there’s still a lot more right about this town than wrong. And with your help, we’re going to do a better job of telling people about it.
So here goes.
To highlight all that is good about Chico — even if it’s just for a day — I’m going to ask you a couple of simple questions, and I’m inviting each of you to send me your answers:
— What do you still love about Chico, and why?
— What things do you enjoy doing here that you can’t do anywhere else?
It can be a restaurant. A bar. A street. A hill. A creek. A tree. An event. A pizza. A cheeseburger. A drink. A person — the kind clerk, the funny waitress, the under-appreciated city official or fireman, a musician or a nonprofit (they often go together!), or a police officer or social advocate. Yes, we’ll take names and we’ll be happy to use them and please, feel free to email photos too.
These are a few of the things I’d love to hear from you. But mainly, I just want to hear something good, because I’m just as tired of the non-stop, non-productive negativity as the rest of you.
I know some of you Debbie Downers and Bob Bummers will take this as yet another chance to put your tired old snarky-ness on grand display. Some will use this column as a springboard to fill social media with brilliant one-liners like “I love Chico because the conservatives are filled with hate” and “my favorite part is getting stuck with a needle when I walk in the park after stepping over crap on the sidewalk thanks to the liberal enablers.”
In other words, you’ll do the same, tired act you do every day, and somehow pat yourself on the back with the misbegotten idea that you’re being clever about it.
But you know what? A few of you won’t do that. You’ll see this as an opportunity to say something great about our city and its people — and I think, more than ever, we could all stand to hear that right now. There is so much more good than bad here; why not celebrate the good for a change?
Besides … if your submission about why you (still) love Chico is chosen as my favorite, we’re going to make it worth your while.
I’m looking three weeks down the road — to Sunday, Nov. 7. That day, we’re going to print the very best of the positive things about Chico that you’ve sent to me. Your deadline for submitting the entry is Monday, Nov. 1.
The reader contribution that, in the view of our esteemed judging panel, captures the best of Chico will get $200 for dinner and drinks at any Chico restaurant of your choice. On us.
All for saying something nice about our city (and its people) for a change, instead of fouling our air, meeting halls and social media pages with the same old us-versus-them hate-filled rhetoric — none of which usually does a damn bit of good.
Good news. What a concept. Reach out, and tell me what you (still) love about our beautiful town. I know I speak for many when I say I can’t wait to read about it.
Do you have something nice to say about our city? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your deadline is Monday, Nov. 1.