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Krawczak: Nothing to do? Not in Alpena

December 3, 2012
Jackie Krawczak , The Alpena News

Alpena is so boring. There is nothing to do. Ever.

I hope you read that in the same way I typed it. With sarcasm. Since I started writing these columns I have wanted to address the false perception that there is little to do in Alpena. I've been thinking about it for months. I am confident that the real problem is something other than there really is nothing to do. Before writing this, I had to spend some time discovering what is really going on.

I started my research by making list of things to do in Alpena. I validated that there is plenty to do when my list quickly spilled to the backside of a sheet of paper (follow me on Twitter - @jkrawczak - to view the growing list). Just to further confirm my thoughts, I put a snowflake by everything you could do in the winter and a dollar sign by everything you could do for less than $5 per person. The list has plenty of snowflakes and dollar signs. After filling a notebook with my observations and thoughts, I came up with three possible (and I believe likely) explanations that would cause someone to say some version of, "there is nothing to do in this town."

First, it appears that people simply don't know where to turn for information. The solution to this lies in the hands of those looking for something to do and those who have something for others to do. There are plenty of online sources (Facebook, community calendar, calendars on website of our local media, specific sites for event facilities, etc.). There are flyers, advertisements in print, on the radio or on TV. You can ask a friend, neighbor, relative, or even a complete stranger. It will be a rare occurrence that the information falls from the sky into your immediate attention. Organizations should also focus on distributing information to an audience beyond just their immediate network.

Second, it seems as if people don't tend to go to something to which they aren't directly invited or closely connected. Did you know it is OK to go to an Alpena Community College basketball game even if you aren't an ACC student and don't know any of the players? The same goes for fundraising events (benefits, organization fundraisers, etc.), other sporting events (hockey, volleyball, soccer, tennis, etc.), competitions (spelling bees, chili cookoffs, tough man contests, talent shows, etc.), or other events. You don't have to be invited. Just grab a friend and go. You don't even have to know anyone else going. Events are a great way to meet new people and meeting new people is a great thing.

Finally, I think we often take things for granted. For example, we don't always think about the value a weekend hockey tournament brings to our community. If we want that value to continue, we need to embrace it as a community (hockey is just one example, there are plenty of others). I'm surprised how many people who live here have never been to some of our local businesses, stores and attractions. We take for granted that these things exist but without local support, how long will they exist? And if you are bored, why not visit (or revisit) something you may overlook because you live here?

Sometimes when I talk to others who live in the same community I find it hard to believe we are talking about the same community. I know my job puts me in a unique position when it comes to events and other things to do, but the functions I attend and things I find to do are rarely invite only. Sometimes I'm tempted to read my list of things to do from start to finish to anyone who says there is nothing to do in this town. Please don't make me do that. Instead, try to be the person who finds the unique, forgotten or overlooked things in the community and then encourage others to join you in enjoying the experience.

Typed without a hint of sarcasm, this really is not a boring place to be.

Jackie Krawczak is the executive director of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays.



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