For the Recorder
While decades ago change came slowly, today change happens in the blink of an eye. Consider the telephone in the 1960s. For many people, they installed a telephone upon moving into a house and probably NEVER changed it as long as they lived there. Today, many people have no house phone. Rather, they choose to use a mobile phone which they change every two years to take advantage of new features. Also, think about the television. In the 1960s you bought a TV and it stayed in your living room for 10, 15, 20 years. Today, many have swapped out their old television for a flat screen TV, then a flat panel TV, then a HD TV, and next is the 3D-HD TV. These are only two examples of how rapidly change happens today; I could cite dozens of others.
By embracing change for success, we have some sense of control. At FM, there have been numerous changes. We remodeled and modernized many student gathering spaces including: Union Stations, Books & Bytes, The Pit, The Classroom Lounge, and Raiders Cove. We modified dozens of degree programs to meet current needs including: computer networking, nanotechnology, nursing, computer science, criminal justice, and others. There will be more changes at FM in order to prepare our students for the future and to help move our region into renewed prosperity.
It is vitally important that the community embrace change, as we have on the FM campus, so that our entire region can succeed. We need to document our past, honor our past, and let go of our past. Clinging to the past, whether it is what a vacant building used to be or the way we used to do things, gets emotional and in the way of change. We cannot afford that emotion.
Gone are the days when people were born, grew up, worked, and lived in the same community for their entire life. Today, many of the people in our region work in Fulton County and live in Montgomery County (or vice versa). Many live in our region and commute to Albany, Saratoga, or Schenectady for work. People move into our area; and people leave.
It is time for us, as a region, to think and act collectively to move the entire region forward. How do we create a community (Johnstown, Amsterdam, Gloversville, St. Johnsville, Mayfield, and others) in which people will want to move to and live in for long periods of time? How can we re-imagine our cities and villages to provide the social life, walking communities, and variety of housing stock that will attract people? How do we stop the bickering of political officials that should be using their energy to plan for our future? How do we create a community that sends a message to the world that "we are for progress;" that "we welcome change to our communities?" Education, that's how!
Through education we explore new ideas. We gather to discuss the possibilities; to honor our past and to see our future. We imagine what could be if we just "put our minds to it." We dream, we act, we change.
I have often said that "We want things to be different; we just don't want them to change." We cannot continue that mindset. Change will happen. We can shape it, or it will shape us.
DUSTIN SWANGER is president of Fulton-Montgomery Community College.