Controlling Our Destiny
Karen and Jay share thoughts on the importance of achieving “peace through strength.”
“Speak softly and carry a big stick.” An approach to international relations made famous by Teddy Roosevelt. Few would disagree with the wisdom of the advice. Yet, while we typically think of this principle in relation to foreign affairs, the truth is that it is a useful approach to apply in our own personal lives. In other words, if we can develop a rock-solid inner strength and faith, we can, in fact, enjoy peace even in the most challenging and difficult of situations.
Back in the early 1980s, President Reagan introduced a doctrine into American foreign policy that would help bring about the end of the Cold War known as “Peace through Strength.” The idea being that the more we invested in presenting a strong, unified front against the threat posed by communism and the Soviet Union, the more likely it was that we could guarantee peace between the two major powers. With the events of the past week, this doctrine seems all too relevant once again.
In times of crisis or uncertainty, it can be disheartening to have to repeatedly muster up the energy to find a sense of peace or balance. Over the last few years, each and every one of us has in some way, shape, or form had to find ways to not only cope, but persevere, through what seems to be a never-ending series of life-changing events. Perhaps you’ve asked yourself how it’s possible to find a continued sense of purpose, or even a sense of stability when surrounded by so many unknowns. Oddly enough, this idea of “Peace through Strength” put forward by President Reagan as an element of his foreign policy features some lessons that can be applied to our own personal lives when looking for peace.
In moments of uncertainty we sometimes feel we lack control over our own narrative. What do I mean by this? It means that the picture we’ve painted of our own lives doesn’t fit within the scope of events that exist outside of our control. This can understandably cause panic, fear, or insecurity. We may make rash decisions or project our fear onto others, often creating more unpredictability. But instead of trying to escape or fight from what we can’t control, we can choose instead to take action and invest in what we can control.
Dr. Rich Hanson is a psychologist and neuroscience expert who has written extensively on the subject of how we as individuals achieve peace during a crisis. He notes that by investing in ourselves regularly by practicing mindfulness, compassion, and gratitude, we can become more resilient in times of difficulty. By taking up practices like meditation or exercise, we focus our mind and create mental fortitude. By practicing kindness, we not only accept others for who they are, we find internal peace by accepting ourselves. And by practicing gratitude, we find calm through the acknowledgment that what we have right in front of us is enough. The end result being that we’re simply fortifying parts of ourselves that already exist, and which allow us to evolve into stronger individuals, physically, mentally, or both. In doing so, we are able to discover our own sense of peace through our own personal strength and faith.
Rebirth of the Old Newport Mill
Once a thriving woolen mill, the Old Ruger Mill now sits quietly alongside the beautiful Sugar River, less than a mile from the heart of Main Street in Newport, NH. The Mill has played an important role in the Newport community since 1905. However, the building has been vacant for years and has the potential to be an exciting element in the town’s ongoing revitalization. With four floors of gymnasium-sized rooms and tall windows that stream in sunlight, the empty Mill is a blank canvas for the community to utilize.
Bill Ruger, a Newport businessman, renovated the Mill and used it as storage for his collection of antique cars. Housing nearly 150 classic antique cars at one point, the Mill was climate controlled and kept in pristine condition, as it still is today. There is currently a small metal business in the basement, but the possibilities for the rest of the building are endless. One of its unique features is a dam and hydropower generator giving it the potential to produce its own electricity. Also, the property wends along the scenic Sugar River all the way down to Main Street presenting the opportunity to build a fantastic Riverwalk, connecting the Mill to the downtown area.
The Sunshine Initiative believes the Mill’s transformation can act as a catalyst for the revitalization of not only Newport but also for the greater Sullivan County region’s economic ecosystem. Last week, we brought in a nationally known company that helps communities work through tough, complex situations to develop creative solutions that truly fit the needs of the community.
We held several meetings at the Mill with enthusiastic community business owners and leaders to discuss what the building “could be.” The group brainstormed dozens of ideas e.g., apartments, microbrewery, community commercial kitchen, and even a launching site for canoes to paddle up the river to the Sturm Ruger factory for special tours and activities.
Much still needs to be done to transform these ideas into reality. There will be an intensive analytic process taking place over the next several months to winnow through the various ideas, help determine the truly financially viable options and identify the appropriate funding sources. However, as someone said in one of the brainstorming sessions “we just need to will it into being,” and the Newport community is on the way doing just that!
Greater Meredith Program – Sunshine Initiative Goes on the Road
Over the last couple of hundred years Meredith has certainly had its share of ups and downs! It’s now experiencing a Renaissance in every sense. Programs and events creating positivity and hope are happening year-round in all sectors of the town. Much of this is because of an amazing organization called the Greater Meredith Program (GMP) which was founded nearly eighteen years ago by a true visionary, local entrepreneur, Rusty McLear!
Learning more about other successful programs, while also sharing our lessons and best practices, is one of the key elements of the Sunshine Initiative. Recently, we were fortunate to be able to sit with Mike Griffin, the Executive Director of the GMP, at the beautiful Hermit Woods Winery and Deli in downtown Meredith where he shared more on the GMP’s very interesting and unique programs. One such program is the Meredith Sculpture Walk now in its ninth year, featured on NH Chronicle, and includes 33 sculptures from artists throughout New England. And of course, we can’t forget the Archie statue dedicated in 2019 which is a tribute to Bob Montana, Meredith native and creator of the Archie comic strip. Not surprisingly the statue is both a local favorite and part of the Permanent Collection.
Mike is the first to admit, he’s fortunate to have an awesome Board of Directors – a wide-ranging mix of community leaders, working and retired professionals, artists, educators, entrepreneurs, and town officials who are all passionate about serving their community and helping make Meredith a year-round business, service, and recreational/social hub for residents, workforce, and visitors. Another unique feature of the GMP which helps to ensure its success is its ability to reach across the typical silos found in a community and work together with a number of other nonprofits i.e., Meredith Rotary, Altrusa, Inter-Lakes School District, Meredith Area Chamber of Commerce, Lakes Region Chamber, the Meredith Historical Society, the Community Garden Club of Meredith, and more!
The passion of its members and the wide variety of its activities were on full display this past week at the GMP’s Annual Meeting. The Sunshine Initiative was attending as one of the GMP’s key leaders, Jeanie Forrester, had asked us to keynote the event. It was a wonderful night as we laughed with Chris Kelly and heard about all the incredible work the groups and volunteers had accomplished over the past year.
We shared insights on the Sunshine Initiative’s vision and progress as well as our expansion into other communities in NH – Laconia, Rochester and the West Side of Manchester. We spoke about the positive activities happening in Newport and also introduced Zack Mannheimer whose company Alquist 3D printed the first livable 3D printed home in the US. Zack is currently working with the Sunshine Initiative on several efforts primarily focused on helping us solve the housing crisis here in New Hampshire and beyond.
Positive Profile of the Week: Governor John H. Sununu
This week we are delighted to profile a great leader who is arguably New Hampshire’s most prominent citizen, a great friend, former Governor John H. Sununu.
Without a doubt, no one exemplifies New Hampshire’s unique sense of civic responsibility and political participation more than Governor John H Sununu. The son of an immigrant mother, Governor Sununu would rise to prominence out of Salem, New Hampshire eventually being elected to the ‘Corner Office’ three consecutive times before being named President H.W. Bush’s Chief of Staff. His accomplishments were truly significant. He led our Granite State, initially at a time when we were struggling through a recession, and by the time, he left office six years later, New Hampshire had emerged as the economic leader in the northeastern United States on multiple dimensions. In so doing, he showed courage, determination and an intellect second to none.
In 1988, his influence was also on display on the national stage. As the Republican Presidential Primary was unfolding – and essentially coming down to a ‘head to head’ contest between George Bush and Bob Dole – Governor Sununu entered the fray on the side of the Bush team. Senator Dole had just won the caucuses in Iowa and as the campaign moved on to New Hampshire, it appeared that a Dole victory in the Granite State, would give Dole the critical boost of momentum to carry him on to the nomination. However, this was not to be. Governor Sununu – knowing that New Hampshire Republicans steadfastly oppose higher taxes, successfully helped position Bush as the anti-tax candidate and Dole as a supporter of tax increases. As a result, Bush, of course, went on to win the Presidency, and the rest is history, as they say. All made possible by the sage advice and leadership of Governor Sununu.
Meanwhile, he has also created a legacy and lasting impact on how New Hampshire politics are conducted. In fact, one of Governor Sununu’s most famous political expression to his own Party is “talk, talk, talk.” In the New England sense of the term, this means do not be afraid to voice your opinion. Talk to your neighbors, talk to the people you work with and try to spread the word about what is happening, who you are supporting and why – and most important, advise them on what they should do and who to vote for. This sort of constant political engagement is what has earned politics the title of “New Hampshire’s Unofficial Sport.” And anyone who has met the good Governor knows that he is not shy about expressing himself and does so quite convincingly and with great conviction.
We are indeed blessed to have Governor John H. Sununu as a leader in our Granite State and are thankful for his many important contributions.
Quotes of the Week: Finding Peace
“Nothing external to you has any power over you.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”
― Thomas Jefferson, Letters of Thomas Jefferson
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
― Siddhārtha Gautama
“When you do the right thing, you get the feeling of peace and serenity associated with it. Do it again and again.”
― Roy T. Bennett
“Never respond to an angry person with a fiery comeback, even if he deserves it...Don't allow his anger to become your anger.”
― Bohdi Sanders, Warrior Wisdom: Ageless Wisdom for the Modern Warrior