Q&A - February 26, 2016

I do not believe it is an overstatement to say that “Okmulgee is experiencing a renaissance.” Call it what you want (a rebirth, a reawakening, a revitalization, etc.); but make no mistake about it, something special is happening in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

As evidenced by the enthusiasm of the capacity crowd that showed up at the Creek Council House in January for the Okmulgee Rising 2.0 event, it is obvious to me that community support and interest continues to be strong for all things Okmulgee.

For those who are new to this conversation, it is probably a good idea to offer this refresher.

Q: Define Okmulgee Rising; what does it mean?

Okmulgee Rising is the name that has been attributed to a grassroots movement that is revitalizing many of the buildings in historic downtown Okmulgee. But it is much more than that. It represents a growing group of local residents who are proud of their community and want to see it prosper once again. Okmulgee Rising is a rallying cry for everyone in this community who is tired of their hometown being run down and put down. It is our way of telling the pessimists and cynics that “things may look bad for our town now, but don’t count us out—we may have been down, but we are rising.”

Yes, it was born out of the desire of some residents to restore life back to a dying downtown, but Okmulgee Rising is bringing fresh attention to the many marvels of our wonderful community: from the beautiful lake system to the west, to our superb higher education corridor to the east; from the amazing tribal complex to the north, to our excellent healthcare facilities to the south; from the many unique shops and restaurants throughout, to our caring people and peaceful way of life; we have much to be proud of right here in Okmulgee.

When friends and neighbors agree to focus their attention on what they can do collectively, attitudes begin to change. When local groups and organizations begin to coalesce around common interests, positive things start to happen and we become unstoppable as a community. This is the truest form of economic development and certainly the most sustainable.

Okmulgee Rising is simply reminding us all about the resources that we have right in front of us. The work is here, and it is now. This is our place and our time to leave a legacy.

You can become involved. Learn about your community. Shop and buy locally when you can. Support local events with your attendance. Clean up and take pride in local appearances. Volunteer your time and efforts. This is an exciting time to live in Okmulgee, and you can be part of it.

I am really enjoying the new sense of optimism that I hear from so many people in town. Each and every one of us can be proud of what is happening in Okmulgee, and together we are the reason Okmulgee is rising.

Please email any questions that you may have about OSUIT or Okmulgee Rising to osuit-president@okstate.edu, and I would be glad to address them.