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Blogs / Professional Fellows Exchange Program / A Community Remembers

A Community Remembers


Veerappan Swaminathan

Public attendees at the Oak Ridge City Council special meeting to deliver a proclamation honouring Patricia Imperato.

One of the beautiful things about living in a small city such as Oak Ridge (population est. 30,000) is that nearly everyone knows everybody else. Coming from a big city like Singapore (population est. 5.5 million) it is really easy to melt away into the crowd - be just another cog in the machine.

This contrast became very apparent during a specially convened meeting of the Oak Ridge City Council on 18 October 2016. The focus of the meeting was to deliver a proclamation honouring Patricia Imperato and recognize her for her service to the community. Patricia had just passed away a day earlier.

Now, I do not know Pat (as she is addressed affectionately) personally and had not met her at all. As an outsider, listening to multiple testimonies of Pat's community service, park beautification projects, tireless energy in raising funds for environmental initiatives, several thoughts struck me.

  • Despite all the grand top-down plans (and the environment sector has many), it is the people in the ground who have the often thankless task of toiling and seeing it through after the handshakes and photo-ops. They do not get any media attention and hardly anyone notices them.
  • How we treat the smallest members of our community is indicative about how much we value every single person in our Community and our propensity to make decisions that will serve all people and not just some people.
  • The power of Community is best felt during times of distress and sadness, not during times of abundance. During bad times (economic, social, political, environmental), we need and must invest in stronger Communties.

Ultimately it made me wonder how my Communtity can and should celebrate the "little guy".

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