(Northfield, MN)- Many know that my favorite TV show is The Andy Griffith Show— I have a picture of the cast in my Capitol office, and often host “Life Lessons from Mayberry” at an adult forum at my church. I grew up in a small Iowa town much like Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, and watching the classic show reminds me of the values and close-knit community I grew up surrounded by. Of course, the town sheriff (Andy) and his deputy (Opie) help police a fictional and idealized town; though Mayberry has its problems, our real life is much more complex.
It’s easy to give in to the cynical attitude that too often pervades the political process, but the communities I help represent give me hope for a brighter future. One of the community events in Senate District 20 that most brings Mayberry to life for me is the annual National Night Out. National Night Out is a community-building campaign that aims to promote positive police-community partnerships and make our communities safer by enhancing relationships between neighbors. This year, National Night Out is held on August 4th.
Many communities, including several in Senate District 20, host block parties, cookouts, festivals, or even just a small barbeque with friends and neighbors. Many team up with local law enforcement to hold safety demonstrations, youth events, or friendly visits from emergency personnel. Sheriff Andy would be proud.
More information can be found at the website for the National Association of Town Watch, one of America’s leading nonprofits dedicated to safer and healthier communities (www.natw.org). If there isn’t a National Night Out hosted near you, I encourage you to organize one next year. In the meantime, try to make an effort to get to know your neighbors and community servants. With programs and gatherings like these, we’ll slowly but surely make our neighborhoods a little more like Mayberry.