Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Random thoughts on Kwik Trip, resolutions

by John Halverson

December 12, 2013

Give it six months from its opening and I think 90 percent of the residents around Kwik Trip will be happy it went up.

Even if they don’t say it, they’ll be shopping there.

There was a lot of dust kicked up over the idea of putting a Kwik Trip on Williams Street, just off Broad Street.

If you’ve been reading the Regional News, some people have lobbied against the project because they feel it will make the area too busy, hurt the environment and negatively affect other gas stations in the area.

This is a 6,000 square foot convenience store/gas station on 40,000-square-feet of property and there are a long list of accomodations made to lessen concerns about noise and lights.

After it’s up for awhile it will blend into the landscape and people will wonder what all the fuss was about.

It’s like outdoor dining. For years, people fought it. Now, except for the inevitable few, everyone accepts it and wonders why it took so long.

Cities evolve.

Change isn’t bad just because a big company does it. And, unfortunately, change also has its fallout. It’s true the current gas stations surrounding the Kwik Trip may see their business suffer or even close.

But that’s because Kwik Trip has more to offer.

True, it’s a large corporation with big bucks but that doesn’t mean what they provide is automatically bad.

We still have the right to control growth for a good reason and there is logic in having codes that allow for logical expansions.

But if the criteria for change requires that everyone be happy or that every business survive, we’d have rejected the idea of cars to keep the blacksmiths in business.

The little changes

What should a newspaper be?

It should be a lot of things, but one thing all newspapers — including the Regional News — forget about too often are simple changes in the community.

New businesses, construction, destruction, buildings changing hands or simply changes in the landscape.

One of our staffers, who recently moved to Lake Geneva, and who sometimes walks to work, noticed a business change in his neighborhood.

It’s part of his landscape now in a way it wasn’t as a visitor.

As a sometimes walker myself, I never fail to notice something different than I’d seen the day before.

Yet, when it comes time to report such things, we in the news media sometimes put it aside. I think sometimes there’s a hint of elitism — that’s not news, our overly-trained minds say.

But it is.

Maybe it’s not in Milwaukee.

But one of the pleasures of working on a small town paper is that the seemingly small changes are part of a community’s ecosystem and we have the ability to report on them because there aren’t too many to handle.

Furthermore, it’s that ecosystem that makes us appreciate what we are as a city which helps inform who we are as human beings.

So, we’ve put that on our resolution’s list for 2014.

Speaking of resolutions…

One of the many things my girlfriend has taught me is how to be a better interviewer.

She may not see it as such, but for her conversation is all in the listening.

Active listening was a buzz term in the self-improvement movement of a few years ago.

Not only does it improve you, the listener, but it improves the person who’s doing the talking.

As an only child, I am by upbringing and experience, a non-natural listener.

I enjoy talking and, I admit, hearing myself talk (unless I look back and realize I was babbling like a politician without a script).

But what does that get me? An echo.

There’s little learning involved, and it rarely does anything for those doing the listening (I’m just not that wise).

But if you ask someone how their day went — and really, really listen to what they say — and then follow up with another question related to their first answer, you have what we call a conversation.

If you’re truly listening it opens up a whole new world. A world outside your head. And it advances the self-esteem of the person who you’re listening to because they’ve had a chance to flesh out ideas and, most important, they know they were worthy of your ear.

It’s as simple as asking someone how their Thanksgiving was or what plans they have for Christmas.

I remain poor at it, but I’m improving. And every time I truly, truly listen, I learn about something outside myself, too.

Sometimes it takes years of repetition to make a habit, but even an incremental gain — even a one-time moment — can make a world of difference for someone and expand your world, too.

Active listening.

I’ve put that on my 2014 resolution list, too.

Halverson is editor and general manager of the Regional News.