While trying to go about their ordinary lives amidst a backdrop of polarization, divisiveness, and conversations around injustice, everyday Americans in small towns must look inwards to find what brings them closer together.

Small Town Anthem

By Hunter L.

Glistening cornfields plotted with the stalks of our heritage.

Shopfront windows bubbled with the passing of time.

Our town is an emblem of the days trekked with muddy boots,

Taken off and put by the hearth as stories and hymns are traded

At the dinner table like pepper and salt.

Like crops we sprouted, we grew, and we gave

Until it was our time to die and let the cycle repeat itself.

As the years went by, the world moved on while our farms

remained a perfect patchwork as seen from above.

A patchwork, like the quilts sewn by our grandmothers.

Or better yet still, we are

A patchwork, fabrics of the people that make up our homes.

Knots of the connections we have tied together. Oh colored

Patchwork, cover me and warm me with your embrace!

For I love my town and I cling to you

As an afghan of togetherness and unity.

No matter the print, thread count, pattern, or hue,

Every square is integral to the grand design.

Are we farmers, or lawyers, or homemakers, or doctors?

That we are indeed. But what about

Gardeners or convenience store workers?

Yes, those too. Can we be students?

Of course, and don’t forget about teachers.

For it is them who show us what we can learn from each other.

Young and old, black, brown and white.

From Christmas and Hanukah, to left and right.

In harvest and in drought, through the panic and chaos of it all

Marks the allure that is being an American.

Those encounters experienced and those conversations to be had

About what binds us together – the patience, the care

The authenticity of a hand shake and a candid smile.

We must always remember that we are a patchwork,

not a single cloth; and no one “doth protest too much”

in a country shaped to do that very act, as it is no less American

to fight for rights than it is to fly a flag that blows as a symbol

of those rights protected.

So hop on those tractors and post those “we’re open” signs.

Start up those computers and march down that street.

Because the America we cherish and the America we crave,

Begins and ends with each one of us.




Gerstell Academy Leadership and Change Section 1

Senior level leadership class responses, section 1/3

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