More Alike Than Different

“We worry about the same things.”


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Transcript for More Alike Than Different

When I think about the relationship between Lake and Porter County, I think that, if I had to generalize, I would really describe it as tense… on a good day. And that is because of the real lack of knowledge. People really ascribe, or subscribe, to these myths about, you know, Porter County being an elitist, a bastion of elitism, and that people just move over there so that they don’t have to live in diverse settings. People think of Lake County as a group of people who are freeloaders, and who are corrupt, and who don’t value good government. I mean, there are any number of stereotypes that you could lay out about Lake or Porter County, most of which are not true. I mean, they have seen, they’ve read one thing and decided that it applies to everyone in Porter County, or everyone in Lake County, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I look at my relationship with Mayor Snyder in Portage.  We’re actually friends.  My husband, and his wife, and the two of us, we’ve gone out to dinner and a movie together. He and I meet regularly for lunch, or breakfast because we took the time, and, actually, he took the time to reach out to me and say, “I want to get to know you better.  We’re elected at the same time. Our communities neighbor each other. Let’s establish a relationship.”

I think that the best way to build a stronger relationship between the two counties is to create a dialogue. And, you know, that dialogue can come in a variety of ways: there could be community forums, there could be an exchange between a Porter County church and a Lake County church, there could be an exchange between a Porter County rotary club and a Lake County rotary club.  But it’s really that communication. When people start to communicate, and everybody’s talking about paying their kid’s tuition and college, or everybody’s talking about how they can’t get certain flowers to grow, or if everyone’s talking about the price of wastewater… sanitary district cost, you know, whatever the conversation is, they would find that there are so many more commonalities than differences, that there would be a level of familiarity that could grow the more that you communicate, the more familiar you become.

Whenever I have an opportunity to talk to people about Gary, Indiana, I always tell them that if they took the time to know the city of Gary, then for those who have negative opinions, they could not help but change them. The citizens of Gary are some of the most resilient, loving, and embracing people that you ever would meet.  You can walk down the street now and smell somebody cooking dinner for four or five o’clock, and knock on the door, and they would invite you in. You know, just tell them you’re doing a survey, and, “Hey, can I get you something to eat? Can I get you something to drink?” And that’s just a part of the ethos. We are really much more alike than we are different. And that’s really the, I think, the underlying theme of so much that I talk about.  That we’re all worried about our children getting good educations.  Them having a better quality of life than we have. We’re all worried about how do we care for our parents and our children at the same time. You know, how do we maintain our property value? We worry about the same things.  And when folks understand that, then I think that level of comprehension may raise the respect that they have about people or have for people, not just from Gary, but from other cities and communities that are different from theirs, from other ethnicities, from other religions.  Once we get to know people, we really do begin to understand them a lot better.