When I started working for the Alliance almost three years ago, I had a few big-picture goals that I was determined to address. One of my sincere concerns was that when I turned on the local news, the “around the region” segments featured nothing but doom and gloom about our parish. Instead of hearing about the new businesses, top honors and opportunities available in Vermilion, Acadiana just heard about arrests, natural disasters, and threats. It’s important to know the news – both good and bad aspects of it – but, the picture being presented was very one-sided. I had friends in the Vermilion Chamber of Commerce and Vermilion Parish Tourism Commission that shared my concern; so, we collectively tried to influence the coverage of Vermilion Parish. Unfortunately, after a good run, the sexiness of controversy began to make its way to the forefront, once again.

But then, just in the last few months, something really beautiful happened… A series of stories from organic sources – word of mouth, local social media, and genuine excitement – started to surface. In the last few weeks we’ve been getting calls and emails from news outlets around the area wanting to know more. The excitement surrounding our good news is starting to outshine the negativity. Whether it’s a new business opening, a new grass roots project, or an organized community initiative, all this news is good news.

Now, Acadiana is seeing just how special this parish is. And in turn, maybe some of us who haven’t been 100% convinced, are starting to remember why we loved Vermilion in the first place. So, how do we keep this momentum up, besides putting a billboard on Hwy 167 that says, “Naysayers stay away!” Well, we must CREATE good news worth reporting. Our positive efforts, awards and successes need to overpower our missteps, challenges and divisiveness. Civic clubs – we need to see pictures of your good works. Schools – show us your growth and accomplishments. Businesses – let us applaud your resilience and diligence. Our organization is ready to help you with spreading your good news locally and beyond. Whether you need assistance with press releases, news contacts, social media or just making connections, we’re available.

With the launch of the community initiative Keep It Local, Vermilion, this task has never been so easy. Organizations and businesses are invited to download our Business Spotlight form and participate in the power of positivity. Simply visit the Facebook page (give “keep it local, vermilion” a search) or download the form directly from our website (www.developvermilion.org/keepitlocal), to be added to the queue. We have an opportunity to shape the message and tell all who are listening that we care about our home and we are all actively contributing to make it the best it can be – despite what they may think. It’s our hope that these efforts will breed community pride and challenge those circumstances that prevent progress.

It’s not a perfect science, and we still have some work to do. But, as I was reminded in my kids’ middle school orientation, “Attitude is Everything!” Principal Sandy Huval (Rene Rost Middle) is on to something. It all starts within each one of us. What do we choose to share online? What do we discuss with our friends? How do we describe our home town? If our collective attitude is hopeful and encouraging, it will be hard to keep us down. Just look at the school’s surroundings. It’s easy to convince these 5th graders to slap on a smile when the local government is investing in beautification projects, businesses are opening by the dozens, and residents feel safe and included. Kaplan is buzzing with good news and people are taking notice.

So, let’s engage in this process and start spreading the GOOD news! Stay up-to-date on ways to get engaged, products and services to enjoy, and Vermilion Parish sights and sounds to experience via the Keep It Local, Vermilion Facebook page – and don’t forget to let us know when something great happens!  Visit our “News” page on the website to see all these cool stories in one place. If you or someone you know is doing meaningful things in the community, or has a good tactic worth sharing, please contact us at info@developvermilion.org or (337) 740-0433.