Community: Who is Palmer?

Community: Who is Palmer?

A few years ago my wife and I attended the annual dinner and auction at the Grange [http://www.alaskagrange.org]. It was a fun event that represented what community is all about. During the auction there was playful bantering mixed with kind words of appreciation for those donating auction and food items.

But the part that was the most interesting to me was toward the end of the auction. People were bidding for a camo purse and two contenders were going at it. Finally one gave up with just a tad of disgust. The winner claimed their auction item and then went and gave it to their top contender. That is an excellent picture of what community really is all about.

Who makes up Palmer?

I have heard it said that the employees are the lifeblood of Palmer.

I have also heard it said that the business owners are the heart of Palmer.

Some of us that serve on council and boards for the city of Palmer like to think that we are somewhat important as well (but some of us may doubt this).

So who makes up Palmer?

The short answer is: the people that are IN Palmer.

Now the most important words in this answer are PEOPLE and IN. I didn’t say employees. I didn’t even say business people or citizens. I didn’t even user the sacred word voters or citizens.

You have to have citizens/voters for the organization called the City of Palmer to exist. You have to have the property owners and the business people in town to make enough money to pay the employees. But the why people are in Palmer is varied.

This clicked in my mind some years ago when I first was elected to city council. After a look at the budget I decided I should go get a tour of some of the key places in the city. So one of the places I arranged to go on a tour of was the sewer plant. During the tour, the operator explained that out sewer capacity was about three times what the population was. I asked if that was for future expansion. He said that it was really needed for the daytime use. At that time Palmer’s population was approaching 5,000, but our daytime use jumped up to more than 10,000. 

But the real point here is that Palmer is like a small hub. We have students come to school during the day (often before the sun comes up). We have major employers in town so their employees come to town to work. There are also many people who don’t technically live in the city limits of Palmer – of course that’s not hard to do since our city limits are so small – but they consider Palmer home. People come for school. People come for work. People come to study. People come to eat and hang out.

My example story at the beginning illustrates this. The ironic part to this story is most of those people live outside of the city limits of Palmer. After all, many of them are farmers and to farm you often have large tracts of land. But they all consider Palmer to be home. You see Palmer is not only a place to live, but a gathering place. A place where people meet. They come to Palmer to work, to go to school or even to attend a dinner. The event I described was held at the Palmer Senior Center which is in the Palmer city limits. So whether they live inside the city limits or outside, Palmer is a part of their lives.

The Secret Ingredient

But there is a secret ingredient to this soup. All of this works much better with courtesy and respect. When people use courtesy, it helps establish trust. When I am courteous to you, it means I am respecting you and trusting you to return that courtesy back to me.

So when you see someone in Palmer, share a smile. “Remember, we’re all in this together!”

Steve Carrington

Paid for by Steve Carrington for Council, PO Box 3333, Palmer, Alaska 99645

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